I Inspect the Storm

John Hartley Williams

Is that geezer in a suit really a weatherman?
He’s dry as a dead tooth and shiny.
The prince rides a boat down the lane.
Grab his pearls of vapour. Ask him
what he does when his bushes rage
and bending firs threaten his roof.

No, don’t bother. Clouds have engulfed the earth.
Wind tears branches off trees. Light
has been removed and I’m alone
on a hilltop with flashes of zip and
thunder groaning blue murder. Raindrops
big as cognac glasses shatter on my head.

The weatherman pats me on the back.
Don’t worry. That dog galloping towards you,
borne off in the deluge, it’s the sensations
that count, sodden homes and floating cars.
Get under this upturned bowl and count.
Be content with my descriptions, my whorls.

A general move and they appoint me president.
That’s all for now is what I should say.
Pull down the weathercocks, let gusts
spin their last. They have placed my boat
in the middle of a rising lake. My task,
merely, is to wait for the water to drain.

Big as a whale a wave comes in,
its white fins curling like graffiti on a tomb
spreading out to hold me. The agency shrugs
as windows smash across the esplanade
and the drowned come laughing back
from shore, toothless and tongueless and wild.