Hurricane Weather

by Brenda Levy Tate
PenShells
Second Place, November 2011
Judged by Nathalie Handal


The first time my father caught me
a trout, blood-mucus slick
where its mouth was hooktorn,
he laid it scarred and scared
across my palm. I saw myself fade
out of its eyes.

Fathers disappear after awhile.
I watch mist creep ashore; listen
to the sedges weep. On this day,
a child can pull fish from brooks of air.
Hang them on an evergreen to unspeckle
and dry among needle-drops.

The rain wears warm gloves.
Ribs rise to a darker current beneath.
Breath swirls around them – river
through reeds.

Clouds run down skin, dress me
with this latest storm. It has another name
but I call it Thomas – after my father.
Thomas, for all my doubting.

I was the last thing seen by an innocent –
the reply to a question dying in my hand.
But I am no one’s answer now.


“Fathers disappear after awhile,” is a line full of wound. It stands alone yet envelops the poem. Keeps it from falling like the reply dying in the hand and the question persisting. This poem insists on taking us to where the rain wears gloves, where clouds run down skin and an answer is no longer an answer. --Nathalie Handal

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