Kansas

Powel 014

You, technicolor,

have no fears.

You, in lights, the water is

invitation to Europe,

Europe, who now comes to you,

not bashful at all, you are,

Europe comes to you.

The thunder doesn’t make

anyone look up, like rabbits,

or wonder where the

cat carrier is.

Back home it means

fearful times of

tiny footprints on the

ceiling of “I could be,”

“it could be.”

Once I was in a school basement

and I was the teacher

I told the kids there was nothing

Another teacher said, “Come, see,”

and I stood on the still workout room treadmill,

to see better: red on the Doppler.

They said take cover.

Two weeks before, a whole

town we had heard of

was sucked up and

spit out in chunks and grains

that no one wanted to find.

My mother worked where that tornado

blew past,

it did nothing,

she was on the top floor, on a hill,

and it did not come for her,

or for us,

the kids with khaki knees

up against their chests

along the lockers.

Here you can’t even see the

lightning, for the buildings.

Lighting is birds,

birds are lightning,

the white electic man who

says, “WALK,”

Birds fly into windows,

lightning flies into windows.

People speak or

don’t speak,

of when it hits.

The lightning comes back

to say, “There is the land,

there is land,”

like the bird did,

“there is the land,”

after the flood,

as birds did to say,

“this is Jesus,”

as lightning brands,

tornadoes fly.

The thunder means,

“Oh, home,”

to some midwest transplants,

to me, it means not home.

For water, the water

of outside tornadoes,

the water of floods,

the transplant of water,

bone clouds, ideas of bones,

to bone water, to the

broth of right in this hand.

My mother’s skeleton hand,

the spit out of what filled

the mouth,

the first cry from your mother,

the people who actually believe in

gods, thunder, and

tornadoes.

The immanence of what’s raining,

will get to the skin.

Once I was in a basement with my

aunts, uncles,

great aunts, great uncles,

cousins, cousins removed,

second cousins,

we played on the ne’er used

workout equipment down there,

a way to hang upside down,

like a bat,

an elliptical machine,

while my one aunt from the coast

wanted to hold her children

by the shoulders,

we had never seen her

wanting anything,

“This is all the time,”

we said.

It was all the time,

charcoal basement,

indoor-outdoor carpet,

my little sister,

stuffed with fear and

sewn up.

In “The Wizard of Oz,”

the twister was made of fabric,

great yards of fabric.

In black and white,

we knew

“I Love Lucy,”

our parents’ little bedroom set,

and the start and end of

“The Wizard.”

We knew Lucy

trapped in the freezer,

our dad told us it was funny,

he was right,

it was not funny that Ricky

and Fred couldn’t cook,

though, our dad could do anything.

In color, we knew animated

“Robin Hood,” the foxes

and the hens,

robbing the rich,

and Super Grover

changing into his cape

in an underwater telephone booth.

Really, New York City is black and white,

the buildings, the bridges, the water,

and Kansas is color,

green, green lawns forever and on,

or, west, toast gold, on and on.

Europe doesn’t even see Kansas,

No one dreams of it.

Image: Firedog, After models by Alessandro Algardi, Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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