June 17th


What It Means

It’s Nineteen-Seventy-Two,
upstate New York.

I’m the antenna again, which makes no sense –
me the one who can’t keep still.

“That’s it,” says Dad,
directing me with his thick hands
like when we do basketball drills in the driveway.
“Right there. Steady. Hold it,” he adds,
as if saying the words could make it so. 

And the harder I concentrate
the more I shake, sway, move.

My arms at odd angles in the air,
as if I’m not-quite
frozen in one of your crazy dance poses,
with Dad looming there, his eyes shadowed,
as if by some enormous cloud
in the room, his eyebrows arched
into that don’t-you-dare-move look I know so well.

I’m behind the big tube, right foot propped
on the TV stand, have to watch it all
reflected in the bookcase glass,
that man from Florida, newscast mic
in his hand, face made of nothing but rain. 

We can barely hear him above the wind.
Something about a woman. Agnes. A storm.
Headed for the Florida coast.

Mom is on her feet now, too, eyes darting
as if that newsman or the wild thing on his lips,
might burst through the front door. 

You, there on the floor, drawing a big blue sun.
Both of us too young to know.

(first published in chapbook Hurricane)