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.