Anne Woodborne

Struck by lightning

Dusk settles like the wings of a moth. His face is taut in the blue glare of the TV. I sit a cup down on the side table and say in placatory, soothing tones, ‘I made a nice cup of tea for you.’ He turns towards me, eyes alight with anger. ‘Why don’t you have a nice cup of arsenic?’

For a minute I think this is a joke. A joke of the vulgar, music-hall variety – give her arse-a-nick. But then I see the relentless stare, he is on the rampage tonight. He has another song-and-dance routine in mind.
As if on cue, a jagged forked tongue of lightning flashes into the sea. I feel the destructive intent behind his words; he sucks on his cigarette, the tip glows red, acrid smoke pours from his nostrils. The message is clear; annihilate yourself.

‘What have I done?’ my voice shakes, I stammer, my lungs hold my breath prisoner.
‘You know what you did.’  I think frantically. I wasn’t here when he got home from work? I can’t pay all the bills, money is short? Just my presence irritates him? His anger is corrosive, it burns into my brain, sears my nerves. My heart begins its nervous pumping.

‘You,’ he leans closer, jabbing a forefinger in my face, ‘tried to get off with poes face – whatsisname? You tried to seduce him.’

What? I blanch. I did what? Now my brain is jelly. His eyes leer at me with cunning smug satisfaction. They promise hours of goading.

‘I don’t know what you’re talking about.’  Thunder drowns my words.
‘What? Don’t mumble,’ he shouts. ‘I can’t hear you.’
‘I haven’t done anything.’ I raise my voice a decibel.
‘You wrote a poem,’ he says savagely. ‘I read it in your diary.’

The penny drops. Poes face is the kind neighbour who helped me when my car broke down. I curse my compulsive need to write, to record things.
‘You have no right to read my diary.’  He bats my feeble protest away as if it were a gnat. ‘You have no right to write a poem to another man. ‘Undone by kindness’– stupid fucking title, by the way.’

‘You’re being ridiculous,’ I say. ‘The man was kind, he helped me get my car started. He patted my arm and told me not to worry.’ Not like you, I think, you would have blown a gasket.
‘I wrote a poem, that’s all. Hardly seduction. He never saw it. Just a kind man.’
‘And I’m not kind? Never the helpful husband?’ His lips tighten into a hatchet line.
‘Not always.’ I manage to say the words.
I can’t tell him the stranger’s kindness was like a sudden beam of sunshine in an otherwise stormy existence. A reassuring antidote to permanent anxiety. I always feel jittery, act guilty under his suspicious scrutiny.

‘Ungrateful bitch. Next time you want to write a ‘poem’, he spits out the word as if it has the taste of poison, ‘to a kind man, be sure to drink a cup of arsenic first.’
I swallow bile as it rises in my throat. His words strike lightning fear into my heart. Thunder rumbles, echoes against the mountain above the sea.

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Lynn Carneson McGregor

Angels

It’s 11.00am in Hertfordshire, riding on the back of Lionel’s huge motorbike, clear sky, sunny day, joy of smell of earth and masses of bluebells under the trees. Holding onto Lionel, wind in my hair. Happy day ahead of us.

Then the bike suddenly swerves out of control and I fly off the back.

Blue, blue of bluebell woods, rushing past me. Bile at the back of my throat. Too fast to control. Flying high into the air. This is death. Then flash of road. Impact. Taste of lightning. No. Lightning has tasted me, unconscious and witnessed by the tall dark green-scented firs, but I can’t smell them. I am somewhere else.

Time to die, but no time to say goodbye.

Body I cannot feel smashed on grey black tarmac.

I am at the merge.

Bright Light.

No feeling, just bright light

Light. Shaft of brilliant light.

No more body. This is dying – floating with the light

Blackness. Then rainbow colours flashing with unbearable intensity.

I see from above, my body, broken, burnt and crumpled.

I am unconscious for forever  or a second, lying hard hit on that harsh road.

My being, reshaped.

Insistent, strong, the scent of bluebells wakes me up. I don’t want to return. I want to travel where the lightning goes when it leaves earth.

Black again. Then a blackbird tells me it is time to come back. Don’t bring me back yet. I need more time to feel and taste that brightness of light.

Then nothing.

I wake up, cushioned on a pool of my own blood. Three angelic beings are above me, tall as the firs, murmuring. Their love and concern wraps around my heart, my being and my body.

The three angels lift me into the ambulance and I lose consciousness again.

Winnie Thomson

The taste of lightning

Jean- Louis had spent the afternoon painting. He was a fairly talented artist, but he was lazy. This time he was using the fashion pages of Marie Claire, as his models. His technique was good, and he reproduced the photographs skilfully. Two weeks later Hugo, an artist friend came to see Jean-Louis’ latest works.

“Shit, man, J-Lou, these portraits are damned good. Yeah – they’re ‘commercial’, but they’re still bloody good. Did you have a model or are they copied from photos?”

“No, it’s a model – a French girl who was visiting- she’s gone back to Paris.”

A feeling of metallic, dark nausea filled my mouth. I knew he was lying – how often had he lied to me before?

Mish Damstra

Threads

We swing through the heights
on a cosmic trapeze,
our safety a golden thread
Ascending the universe,
beyond breath, all matter,
all that is

Passing The Little Prince,
ghosts and spirits,
we’re high wire flyers
There, in dark stillness,
clouds gather fierce and round,
shorn wool, grey with chill

I swing through the heights
on a cosmic trapeze
Coming through thunder,
strong and long,
to rest in rays of turmeric
on a trampoline sun

My safety – these golden threads,
guaranteed

Beryl Eichenberger

Mind storm

In comes the storm,
a clanging, scattered
army.

In her mind, jagged threads,
running,
playing.

A door creaks.
Tender husband
enters the storm.

He takes her anger,
envelops her gently,
lets her rage.

Peace descends slowly.
Tense, unheard rooms
fall quiet, easy.

Limp cool hands
in silent acceptance
flick in zigzags across her lap.

The brilliant lightning
throws their sky
into surreal silhouette.

Anne Hope

Broken branches fleeing
before furious winds
forcing my little Fiat
into the face of the storm
bucking like a frightened horse
as it confronts the gale
seething streaks of lightning
replicating the rhythms
of the riotous elements
in the cocooned cabin
of my racing heart.
Closing in around me
in dark swirling clouds:
the Power of God .

Christina Coates

My feet are the ground;
decades of here
like the elephant.
I am about to be the person who,
leaving my shadow, the storms of the past,
is home at her feet.
A plateau of pain –
here is where I need to make,
alongside this forest,
me.

The elephant sees what I am doing;
the herd of her eye
watching me.
She listens forever
to what I want.
Leaving my shadow,
coming through the storm,
the bird shows its face;
life awaits an island.

I hasten to heights
I have longed for.
Healed now I am still,
my body, my cells renewing
my life – a quiet place.
The big storm is out.

Coming through,
I walk across the years,
the storms of my life.
I came to my marriage,
I find it, waiting
for the place to reveal itself.
I am home. It is a place
of thirty years
and I am surrounded by
the brink of hounds
and birds beautiful.
Stepping into it means
rewiring the elephant,
to be under her reorganizing eye.

I’m washed up on this garden
years after I had shipwrecked.
I wait;
I am a plant.
I shake myself, the soil has settled.
I am rewired for the process – to go
anywhere.
The thunder is over.
The sky is singing.

Cornelia Bullen-Smith

My empty nest syndrome
(analysis at 55)

Yesterday,
I chanted to my sparkling wisdom of the here and now,
fearing lightning, yet longing so for stormy thunder.
Then,
eyes closed, I summersaulted smartly into disappearance,
entering the breathless void of de-boned shoulder tasks.
Hoping that

today
I might attempt  again again again to dance into my life –
a baby butterfly, drizzled with a zillion kindly stars.
Then
sprightly, I might slippy slide on new beginnings
into the joyfilled garden of life’s wonderous possibilities.
Hoping that

tomorrow
or maybe sooner
I shall gently jiggle the kaleidoskope of hope
abandon myself to living in the lushness of lovely wonderful me’s,
multifocal, colourfully glowing, revived, complete.
Then…

Ilze Olckers

Drowning – not waving.

The fear was different and true.
Still, intermittent on the corrugated roof
and you were in hiding.

Then all hell breaks loose again.
Monsoons of misery running between doors
top soil soiling the ocean.

Even though in a manner of speaking you gave it up
marveling at this one moment of peace
and your heart was brave.

A reprieve, a dance
giving birth in trees.
Birds drowned.

Trellidoors, sensors, beams between you and the electric fence
group areas – gated villages.
Even though most of life was ahead of you

coming through the storm
quietly circling buildings making your mark.
Not this, cowardly glancing through windows at 2 am .

Karin Andersen

A storm, from the verandah at Fairview.

Lightning, accusing, says “You will remember me.”
(Don’t stand under the electric blue of lightning.)
The sky tastes of lost love and warm honey
Flying ants drop their wings at my feet.

Thunder curses under a blanket of rain.
The earth sighs in dreams
as the storm hunches its back
entering the green gate, pregnant with rain.

Linda Price

Silent Thunder

I remember how you swept from the bed,
a solitary strand of forget-me-nots
that streaked my fuming flesh.

You turned away and failed to see
the dew drops that tickled my moist mouth;
and danced across my Gucci smile.

My purple grin never creased;
while inside my skin, silver sunlight sliced
and bovine breath cracked bone.

I lay aghast and A-glitter;
and watched you walk away and leave behind
Me.

Mary Monaghan

She wanted that storm but
it knocks her off
balance, keeps her guessing,
sweeps her away.
Battered
from all sides, whipped
by the wind she
struggles
uphill
off balance, out of control,
at the mercy of the storm, turned
this way and that. It will
have its way.
Quietness
descends and
then –
she emerges,
stilled.

Maire Fisher

Pause

I

running through
tangled roads
thunder stones
in my mouth
flashing back
like stars bursting

I pause

coming through fear
into music
listening
to the space
around
the still lake
a quiet word
moves my heart

II

Running down the tangled roads
words thunder in my heart
I pause,
quiet,
and angels move,
flashing through the storm
like stars bursting.

I move through fear
into listening,
my centre a quiet lake.
And in the space around my heart
one word – home –
beams brightest of all.