is violent and warm, magnolia trees longstanding
through lightning, sky ignited, sky brilliant

as bone–as Todd and me with our animals inside,
five bodies huddled, warned, on our couch–

our bread’s done baking, conditions imminent,
seek shelter immediately. The stray cats outside

sink low to the ground. They hunt for ditches,
for vacant fields, and in that moment, I feel futile

as a one bedroom house, house with a red
front door, with windows on all sides, windows

even in the bathroom–When I say tornado, I mean
force majeure, I mean act of God–and when Todd

yells to head for the tub, when I kneel before the tap,
all that ivory and rust—I pray for the same thing

I’ve been fighting off for years. These walls
have always vibrated. The noise, forever

this loud. I drag every man I love
to the bottom of the ocean. I never bother

with air. But sinking there in that tub, under
the blankets Todd tosses over me, I realize

I want to breathe, to keep myself afloat
for this man who retains his head in crisis.

And just like that it’s over–trail we can see
for a mile outside, trail which missed us by inches.

Todd tells me he saw the funnel reach out,
watched a heavenly hand rip a tree from the dirt.

O deity of freight trains and ether, O cyclone
I stared down and asked to survive,

I’ll remember each root you unearthed. I’ll cradle
each snapped powerline like it were mine.

Brandi Nicole Martin