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Weathering the weather

July 8, 2012

Like many parts of the country, the date in the box of the calendar and the weather through the box of the window have not matched up in recent weeks. Our town had its wettest June ever recorded, leaving locals to bemoan drowning gardens while neighboring counties have been battling heat, wind, and fire.

It’s made for an interesting start to the summer sailing season. Everyone lucked out a couple of weekends ago with clear skies and steady winds for a fast race down the lake, with all boats tucked into slips before thunderheads started to march over the islands and lightning reached longingly for tall masts. We chose to skip what promised to be a wavy night and head inland for a dry, grounded bed. But first, we had to pass through the storm.

Hwy 28

We drive.
Narrow country highway
new asphalt uniform in its blackness
carries us smoothly through
pollen-heavy cheatgrass
merging into swaths of alfalfa
aching to be cut
Florescent yellow blossoms
of canola’s blanket
seem to glow in the darkening day

We drive.
Painfully white thunderheads
collide, pile up
like a multicar accident
and I can’t look away
They block skin-burning sun
filling the wide gap between rough mountains
with puffs of nature’s finest cotton
but then gray as though doused
with dirty dishwater

Still we drive.
No shoulder, no lines
only black asphalt below
now charcoal clouds above
a crisp line through summer’s fields
a square-edged shelf overhead
The clean cut through the sky
begins to bleed toward us
until the road curves
and we see the wall

We drive
toward white nothing
No mountains, no fields
no clouds, no road
only whiteness
like a studio backdrop
waiting for its digital image
The director films our scene:
two lovers, an old truck
a stretch of highway behind them

And ahead?
Forest frightening in its density
ocean view as our route drops
toward diamond-bright sand
manmade metropolis
all concrete, glass, sharp corners
or country road
leading to an aging stucco-walled hotel
bouncy brass beds
soothing hot waters thick with minerals

Suddenly, headlights.
My hand grips your knee
as two hazy round balls
burst through the barrier
Then we slam into the wall
Momentary silence
deafening in its loudness
is defeated by rain
beating its red-roof rhythm
so rapid I could never dance to it

You slow
windshield wipers frantic
yet still it comes
harder, faster, louder
then harder still
Balls of ice
first pinheads
but in seconds, dimes
flat buttons of hail
slap the cracked windshield

We stop.
Narrow, shoulderless highway
erased by roaring cascades of storm
drowning thunder’s cries to be heard
Orange hazard lights
ease the isolating loneliness
break through in occasional flashes
as though channeling lightning
that must be overhead
but come no closer

No one moves.
Cars sit paralyzed
waiting, hoping, perhaps praying
it will all pass
Hail pits itself against metal
and I turn, concerned
But you simply grin
pat the dashboard
as though thanking a loyal dog
lean across and kiss me

We sit
watch the water fall

This poem was written for the dVerse Poets Pub Poetics challenge. The challenge: Write a poem that uses the weather metaphorically to express an emotion or feeling. Thanks, Stu!

8 Comments leave one →
  1. July 14, 2012 3:55 am

    I loved the rhythm and the imagery of this piece along with the repetition of ‘we drive’. You do a fantastic job of bringing the reader along with you on this vivid journey. The close is marvelous as well. Love, love, love.


  2. July 9, 2012 4:10 pm

    I felt I was in the car with you, super write really enjoyed the journey …thanks for sharing xx


  3. July 9, 2012 11:42 am

    on the edge adventure with stunning imagery:pollen heavy cheat grass, balls pinheads dimes buttons, and the loyal patting of the dog -which allowed me to finally take a breath. really enjoyed reading this gripping, well written piece!


  4. poemsofhateandhope permalink
    July 9, 2012 2:52 am

    I think what i love about this is the repetition of ‘we drive’… Which then becomes ‘we slow’, ‘we stop’ , ‘we sit’…..for me this all about I’ve in terms of ‘we’….with life being the storm….but you paint a picture here of strong partnership and an ability to get throu it’s anxieties and worries together…..loved the close….just reaffirming that positivity that everything will be ok…. Great writing and you met the brief perfectly!


    • July 9, 2012 9:30 am

      Thanks, Stu! I’d been thinking about this piece since the storm, and your prompt was exactly what I needed to get it out of my head and onto paper.


  5. July 8, 2012 8:06 pm

    dang there is a really cool intensity to this…really picks up part way through once you hit that wall…some incredible descriptions in this…you lull us in a bit too with the repetition of we drive….really nicely done…


  6. July 8, 2012 3:17 pm

    Nice–the long drive and the short lines driving the poem like the sound of the tires on the road. I love the sweet relief of the ending. Thank you!


  7. July 8, 2012 11:15 am

    I really like this – especially the ending, warm and dry in the car while the elements do their worst outside.


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