Gust from the West

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First Storm and Thereafter

BY SCOTT CAIRNS

What I notice first within
          this rough scene fixed
in memory is the rare
          quality of its lightning, as if
those bolts were clipped
          from a comic book, pasted
on low cloud, or fashioned
          with cardboard, daubed
with gilt then hung overhead
          on wire and fine hooks.
What I hear most clearly
          within that thunder now
is its grief—a moan, a long
          lament echoing, an ache.
And the rain? Raucous enough,
          pounding, but oddly
musical, and, well,
          eager to entertain, solicitous.
No storm since has been framed
          with such matter-of-fact
artifice, nor to such comic
          effect. No, the thousand-plus
storms since then have turned
          increasingly artless,
arbitrary, bearing—every
          one of them—a numbing burst.
And today, from the west a gust
          and a filling pressure
pulsing in the throat—offering
          little or nothing to make light of.

Source: Poetry (April 2011).

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