My childhood was spliced into storm. They rolled into our suburban yard like lava flowing in molasses motion like the freight trains that shook us awake at night, bringing faraways nearby, achingly patient and always dangerously soon.
They were there before arriving, like we knew how to hear thunder in the cicadas’ sudden silences touch tornados through skin stroking troubled breeze smell flood in the perfume of earthy, rotting air gaze into forces of nature torquing yellow leaves’ white bellies back-bent towards green and blacking sky.
Sometimes, I tasted the blood coat my tongue as it stretched out to soak up bulging drops of rain, salving fissures in lips torn from the biting, softening my scabbed and scarring heart with hydropromises of pink skins dreamt of and hungered for and new.
Lightning set our house on fire, once, before copper was extracted to be that rooting rod. We slept for hours as it raged insensible through wires inside plasterboard walls. Lightning struck my father, twice, each time standing invincible in wet sneakers holding an umbrella high above the saturated grasslands of white children’s soccer fields. Neighbors called it storm damage or the act of an angry god like they were insurance companies lying over and over that earth is still a terrorizing and unfortunate surprise.
I never called them anything but home.
Learned to summon the rhythms of the wind, incanting—wild being naked release delirious depth ungovernable unapologetic unrepentant irresistible resistless and maybe redemption.
I waited for storm in the afternoons we breathed hot and soupy air more like drowning than drawing life, sweating, panting, coming out for them with pupils dilating from every yearning pore, opening wounds to graft the wisdom of wilderness with everything, in me.
My mother also waited. Would scan the quickening clouds and cry treble-pitched from the cemented porch of a cookie-cutter house too asphyxiating to burn—come inside, child, before this makes you wet or hurls you through tomorrow or something sensuous sets you on fire.