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  • EMC

Storm Tower

The day is dark, as if coffee

spilled from your cup had stained atmosphere,

colouring the light dirt-grey. Something

is not as it should be. Everything

seems to pull to the east. There is a

warning in the air, as salt, suspended,

lingers above the sea. Words are

travelling to you, a message, swollen, begging

to be deciphered. One you can only hear in sleep.


Outside, you watch, transfixed, your thoughts

torn away from you, then regurgitated

back onto the shore. An endless cycle

of sand and water, and empty, bubbling foam. A sound,

a scent, pulls your gaze outwards. Something

gathers on the horizon- a thing you cannot see.

Something whistles at your back, but reaching around,

it slips, like satin between your fingers.

Far too quick to be caught in your grasp.


You keep your house empty, but the garden

full, though today the plants

seem to grovel and shake. They lie,

half-prone against the earth, heads

turned from the sun as it cowers behind the

clouds, in deference for whatever

comes in its wake. The sand beneath you

trembles, each grain sinking back down into

its brothers’ horde. The waves retract- paying you

heed no longer, swallowing themselves

in their haste. They are never coming back.


Your blood, chilled, trickles inside you. Out there, you watch

the tower rise. Steps away from shelter, but

you’re not sure your mind can trust what

your eyes are pleading with you to see. Sound

of pounding all around you. Beneath you.

Look down, you realise it is your own two

feet as you stumble backwards. Straining

for purchase on a door that is just out

of reach. Steady yourself. Gather your clothes

and wits about you. You can’t outrun the storm.


Pressed up against the partition-

no match for what brews at its back. Sweat

meets ink, gathering at your wrist, your navel,

mottling the floor with drops of hopeless black. There is

nothing to be done. Nowhere to hide. It’s far too late

for that. Except, perhaps, open the door? A rush

of madness courses through you, coating your mouth,

your palms. You’ve never courted a storm before.


The house is small, but solid, each wall built

just high enough. But from the east, through

panelling cracks, comes the battering

of wind, rhythmic- a beating of drums that have no care

for the water that they sift and throw up

with every roll and crash. Made wild, you feel them

in the ground beneath you, in the pulsing

in your own heart. These waves do not bend to any man.

You never stood a chance.


Your malformed mountains cannot

protect you. No desert, no forest, can keep you safe.

Straining against a keyhole barely wide enough

to see through, there is no shelter in all this

hollow place. Everything hangs in the balance

of a moment. Your blood and your belly- they know

what you must do. Batten down the hatches. Board up

the windows. Wrap yourself in ash and sackcloth.

You know the storm, she comes for you.



Commentary: This is one of the longest poems I've ever written, and I am quite proud of it, even though it's been rejected by more publications that I can count! The idea for this poem came from Ludovico Einaudi's "The Tower". In my mind the protagonist of this poem is standing somewhere on the pacific coast of South America, probably Chile, outside the home he has build for himself on the beach, looking out at some unknown, menacing, yet mesmerising thing gathering on the horizon. Only after revisiting the poem did I find more allegorical and thematic elements to it, such as perhaps the storm personifying Mother Nature coming to mete out her revenge on mankind in general. I think what I love the most about this poem is that storm is quite a feral character in and of herself, coming to claim something as her own- love, chaos, justice, vengeance, retribution, and not minding the damage she will cause in her wake.