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A poem

The first of December–instead of snow

caramel-colored leaves blow like murmurations of starlings

trilling above driveways, sidewalks,

bits of mortar fly from brick houses.

In Oklahoma nothing remains hidden for long–

everything is at the mercy of the wind.

Mountain poor, this land where Northwest

and Gulf Streams collide, where summer days

can turn dark in a moment, here the highest wind speed

on earth was recorded–318 miles per hour in 1999,

long after the Joads loaded their wagon

traveling past rattling windows through dust to gold.

My fifteen-year-old dog and I teeter

towards home with no desire but

deliverance from this bone-clattering dance.

Tomorrow I’ll pick through my yard,

find bits of my neighbor’s life–

receipts for motor oil, McDonald’s,

report cards, tattered love poems,

labels from their private poisons,

Allegra, Wellbutrin, Lipitor,

and I’ll recognize myself in the wind–

persistent, impossible

to outrun, natural

and fierce as the God

who sends us.