Tornado Watch

In that dream, I watched the funnel writhe
above the green ridge that was the edge of my child’s world,
incredulous. Concluding it was real,

I’d gather father, mother, brother
to lead them to the basement. There,
I used a stool to peer through a window:

The single, imminent funnel had transformed itself
Into several tiny ones, smudges, or threads
that unraveled on a far-distant horizon.
Endowed with telescopic vision,
I watched these little funnels, trying to understand,

and still I try. Was it God on the horizon,
bearing down on us, to punish our faithlessness?

Or was it something else, that in the moment of my fear
reversed itself, beginning a withdrawal,
dividing itself into wriggling worms
that only wished to bury themselves in the horizon,
like any small animal hoping to evade a curious child,
taking its mysteries back to its burrow?

Say this.
Say these things are one and the same –
the anger of an offended God
and the blind motions of worms
that twist in a spadeful of soil,
seeking the safe moisture of earth.

To Make of One’s Body a Place

Underwater, I watch her: arms
happily parting the water ahead,
brown hair pulsing behind with the charm
of mermaids. We catch our breath. Then,

she stands upon my knees to launch
herself across the pool toward wife;
returns without a pause, her haunches
churning the aqua surface, head down,

one breath, until her fingers, like a prow,
meet mine, and curl, her legs folding
in to stand again on my knees, and now
steadies herself to launch once more,

and at last I understand my job:
to make myself a safe, strong place,
a surface with a little bounce
to let her launch herself toward space,

and there she seems to hang a moment, her tiny
body dripping, above our watching world,
until the splash returns us to time,
and she surfaces – my grinning girl!

Clark Bouwman is an essayist and poet living in Richmond, California. His work has appeared in Gargoyle OnlineThe Dreaming MachineThe AntonymMinimusThe Takoma Voice, and in the anthology Music Gigs Gone Wrong. Originally from the DC area, he and his wife moved to the bay area in 2018 to help with their grandchildren.