Notes from Storms

by Mickey Stringer
 

I wrote the following two stories, poems, pieces – whatever – by hand during two particularly severe thunderstorms this summer. Something about the abruptness of the storms’ onset, and the violence with which they unfolded, told me to grab a pen and a notebook and start writing. Obviously, the accounts of both turned out unreasonably dramatic.
The first was written by candlelight after the power cut out in my century-old home at the time. This particular house does not have central air and so most every window was open (the “air conditioners” mentioned in the piece are window units). Imagine being alone in an already creaky, musty, high-ceilinged house, with only a dancing, creepy-shadow-casting candle for a light, as every door, curtain, and otherwise unfastened object in the house groans, flutters, and slams with the wind. It was the most terrified, unsettled, eerily awesome I’ve ever felt.
The second was written just about a month later, after I had moved back into my parents’ house. That storm, though it came up just as suddenly, and with comparable force, did not deliver the same feeling of peril. For one, the power stayed on. Additionally, my parents have central air, so the windows were mostly closed – muffling the sounds. What was different about that storm, though, was that the illusion of safety made me oscillate between indifference and serious concern. That, in turn, made me kind of pay more attention to how the storm was developing and evolving outside. I’m not sure that will make sense to you, but trust that I was entranced by that storm.
Anyways, here are the “pieces”:

 

1.

It should be clear now,
When switches don’t bring light,
When air conditioners lay mute,
When the only music playing is too loud, too soft, without a regular beat.

It should be clear that humanity is weak.

With one quick crack the arteries of information stop flowing.
With one sharp gust a home is lost.

Now only flickers guide my timid, hopeful actions.
The words are here in front of me, and the next second deceased.

The crackling, pattering drone drives home the only words that matter;
the mantra that delivers the truth:
            Humanity is weak.
            Humanity is fragile.
            nature writes our fate.
            nature is forever.

 

Sweat flows freely in this now humid, cowering castle.
Muscles twitch in time with the flashes cast without.
Sirens mirror the queasy thoughts traversing my paper skull.
The mellowing of the storm into a patient, deliberate droll only intensifies the horror
as it grumbles:
            humanity is weak.
            humanity is fragile.
            Nature writes your fate.
            Nature is forever.
 
 

2.

A Facebook status reads: “Tornado watch in Towson!!!”
An instant later, a weather siren sounds.

“Oh SHIT!”

I grab my laptop – the vessel of my life – and quickly bound the stairs.
I tell my parents to head to the basement, but typically,
they mute the TV and look around confused and unworried.
“What’s that?”
I open the door to let them hear the siren –
            “What the…?”

No siren.
Blank stares.

Did I smoke too much?

I bring up a weather alert online… and fill in the gaps with plausible rhetoric.
My mother, the scientist, becomes appropriately concerned.

The storm seeming ordinary after a moment, I head back upstairs.

Almost immediately, hail begins drumming on the windows.
In no time flat, it has turned into an incessant, piercing RAT-TAT-TAT.

I again descend the stairs, this time walking into the wide-eyed, shaken-yet-calm, stare of my mother.
We head to the basement – my father stays upstairs complaining about the cable farting out.

The storm undulates and revolves, bringing silence and roars, breezes and torrents.
After re-climbing and re-descending the stairs like a worried dog,
I settle before the one open window in the house to acquaint myself with the squall.

The winds hiss and roar, then settle with a hush.
The rains seethe then patter, awash in fickle flashes,
while timpani rolls crash then scamper.

Suddenly, an idle, vanilla –chirp– cuts straight clear through the tempest.
At this, I notice the patch of serene evening blue growing steadily from the South.

 
Mick Stringer is a reclusive socialite from Towson, MD who dabbles in poetry, music, funny pictures, and comfortable jeans. For more goodies, follow “ChiefMcFrank” on Tumblr and Twitter.