Mudlark No. 50 (2013)

The Politics of Hurricanes

In elementary school I was made to learn
the lives of saints and patriarchs
so I would know the triumph and meaning of suffering.
I can still see Sister Mary Alonzo’s eyes well
as she described—arms raised to Heaven—the angel 
who saved a bound Isaac from his father’s blade.
And when my father raised his belt to punish me
for some minor sin or other, I prayed 
for that same angel to come and save me.

I was also made to watch stuttering filmstrips 
of Sputnik orbiting Earth like an all-seeing eye
and grainy movies of atomic explosions so I would believe
my teachers when they told me to duck and cover.
As I watched, horrified, a radioactive storm obliterate
a house like my own in one Godly superheated breath,
I came to accept the terrible truths before my eyes:
Strong wind and Satan were one and the same
and one day we would all pay for our collective sins.

And when my father explained that thunder was God
clearing his throat before damning Commies 
with His voice of lightning, I took every word as gospel. 
Each night, my father by my side, I prayed for God 
to keep me safe from the Red monster under my bed.
Once tucked in and left alone, I whispered my own prayer
to beg off storms from my dreams. But as I grew older, 
no prayer could keep them away. Each new storm grew 
into a hurricane named for every one of my sins: 
Envy, Sloth, Gluttony, Greed, Lust.

Even now I dream of hurricanes, their whipping
winds stripping the flesh from my bones
and scattering my remains everywhere and nowhere
as if I were nothing more than a Challenger astronaut.
But tonight, as I watch satellite images of a new hurricane
tighten around an empty, devilish eye
surrounded by lashes of rain bands curling over Florida,
I can’t help but pray for the angel to free Isaac 
once more so that he may strengthen and grow  
and scrub the world clean of acrimony, hate, and God.

Kip Knott | Bigfoot Crossing
Contents | Mudlark No. 50 (2013)