My Mama Respected Storms
From the beauty of my belly, crisp adolescent hairs
standing at attention like little shiny soldiers, waiting
on a command -- any command at all -- providing a frame
of reference for how wicked the lightning is at the end
of town, beyond the oaks and maples that tower in the back
yard like a colossal green wave.
"It's gonna be a doozy," she said. "Get ready, Get
yourself out of bed. Whatever you're doing in there
is not worth dying over."
We pray there'd be no tornadoes, straight-line winds
that could flatten the walls of our home with nonchalant gusto.
She leads us into the Word whose instructions are clear, helping us
understand that God is not a genie, that if He wanted to burn
down our house with a forceful bolt of lightning, or strike us
in the chest to teach us some sort of lesson, that we'd be strong
enough to accept it, to deal with it then edit the course of our lives.
"Unplug the TV," she orders, "and I'll get the other
appliances. Close the windows and meet me in the hall way
as soon as you can." I comply, appreciating that the knot
in my stomach is there for a good reason, a beacon in a storm
on a turbulent sea; that dogs and cats know enough to follow us
under the quilts in the middle of the hall, that Lord Supper crackers
will be consumed without wine, that we would all refrain
from talking and walking and moving about like stimulated
rolly-pollies. This is the way it was with her.
I come up for air after the wall cloud blows over our heads,
the tree limbs kissing our house like a familiar lover, and walk
to the back door to usher in a gush of cool air onto our arms and necks,
making the electricity on our tongues taste like tin. Eventually she gives
us the official word that we'd once again passed the test and that God
doesn't need us as angels for His most recent Open House.