FULGURITE

I wrote this poem shortly before flying to start my new life in Oxford. I will be performing it at Illustrate, an event run by St. Aldates church, on Monday Oct. 22. 

Last night, my sister called me from the attic to tell me the storm was beautiful. I stood in the attic between the fiberglass stuffing and the window and witnessed the thunder roll in. Lightning illuminated clouds from behind, spreading out in blue-blood-bright tributaries. Spider-legged streaks, smears of light, like watercolor. And yes, the storm was beautiful.

Last night, I thought of the home town I will leave shortly, the rows of perfectly trimmed lawns and little dogs sniffing between gaps in picket fences, the waves that hit the shore again and again and again, as if there is not pain but joy in doing something so many times it begins to have a tide. I thought of my God waiting for me across the ocean, of Patience’s golden-warm shea butter smile, of endless cups of tea, lined up in an infinite row stretching out. I thought of the homesickness that caught me so bad I cried myself to sleep. I thought of the joy I felt in the tiny chapel listening to God whisper that I wasn’t alone. And yes, the storm was beautiful.

It’s easy to tell anyone’s story but your own. There’s a reason they call it ‘breaking’ silence: because when your voice bubbles up from your guts, something in you will break as well, brittle and strange.

When lightning strikes down onto a beach, it forms fulgurite, silicon glass that is burned into sand, quartzite or other minerals. The heat from the strike has been known to exceed 30,000 Kilojoules, and the shape of the glass mimics that of the lightning. They are hunchbacked, misshapen things, coated in sand and ricket-thin, hollow. Like bird’s bones. Like silence. And as I watched the lightning with my sister I thought of how every person I’ve ever met has touched down to the sand. What shape will you leave, I wonder? What shape will I leave you?

Last night, my sister called me from the attic to tell me the storm was beautiful. And the lightning came again and again, as if there is not pain but joy in doing something so many times it becomes a tide. And yes, the storm was beautiful. And yes, we are too.

 

**Image taken under CC 2.0 license from user yoyoj3d1 on Flickr**

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