DOROTHY VISITS THE CYCLONE IN THE CONVALESCENCE HOME FOR NATURAL DISASTERS
by Amorak Huey
“The cyclone had set the house down
very gently – for a cyclone – in the midst
of a country of marvelous beauty.”
– L. Frank Baum
I know you seek scarlet-toed memories,
small dogs, doorbell songs, but my stories
these days happen outside my apartment window:
rock quarry sparks & flares all night,
I watch dusk-smeared men holding hands,
if there’s no wind I hear them singing.
Our lives are littered with what we do not say,
unkempt promises. Do you ever
think things should have been different
between us? Are we measured
by our actions or our hesitations?
Sometimes I forget to breathe.
It’s a curious business, I do not mean
this growing old, or even forgiveness
but the way thunderheads build on horizon,
impossible mountains of dark: I mean:
my inability to love. Here, I brought flowers.
I could not stand these yellow walls –
this is the curse you placed upon me,
expectation of adventure, rootlessness,
belief that fear might be molded like tar.
It’s time for me to go. I have failed again.
Next week I will tell you about distant lightning,
ginger smell of burning gravel, other dreams
I always see coming but never outrun.
(“Dorothy Visits the Cyclone in the Convalescence Home for Natural Disasters” was originally published in The Offending Adam and is reprinted here today with permission from the poet.)
Amorak Huey is a former newspaper reporter and editor who now teaches professional and creative writing at Grand Valley State University in Michigan, where he lives with his wife and two children. He holds an MFA from Western Michigan University, and his poems have appeared in a number of print and online journals. New poems this spring will be available in The Southern Review, Indiana Review and The Southeast Review.
Editor’s Note: I have always been fascinated by the idea of a midrash; the expanding of an existing story or text to tell a new story from between its lines. Today’s poem does just that, opening up the well-known story of Dorothy’s journey to Oz, and telling from within that opening a story of the poet’s own creation. Another poem in this series that grapples with life’s big questions, today’s post is flowering with moments of beautiful poetic language that make it as pleasurable to read as it is difficult to answer the questions the poet so poignantly poses. I am partial to moments such as “Are we measured / by our actions or our hesitations? / Sometimes I forget to breathe,” “belief that fear might be molded like tar,” and “dreams / I always see coming but never outrun.”