Derecho

After your bus drove away
I stood looking at the empty grass
where the white house used to be,
living room clapped in half
by a lightning-loosed tree, the storm
that day a folklore, pentecostal.
First there were the firetrucks, the wail and mania,
and then the green cherry picker that lifted
a man in its mechanical fist
to fix the downed lines. You stood
at the helm of your scooter
to watch in your philosophical quiet
as the movers emptied the wings
of the house—tree like a sudden thorax—
and the clouds jostled in epiphanic blue.
And one day the bulldozer came, to raze
the staggered remains, then men
from the city chainsawed the trunk
into smaller and smaller disks,
until there was only the scrubbed earth
like a knee ripped of its scab.
And still you had never asked,
neither of us knowing the site of this undoing
would be your kindergarten bus stop
and in your pink backpack
you would climb into the yellow roar
and wave to me and fold
your secret questions like a note
to be slipped in a lunch, opened later,
token of that thrifted dollhouse
we call childhood.

Chelsea Wagenaar

Chelsea Wagenaar

Chelsea Wagenaar is the author of two collections of poetry, most recently The Spinning Place, winner of the 2018 Michael Waters Prize. Her first collection, Mercy Spurs the Bone, was selected by Philip Levine to win the 2013 Philip Levine Prize. She holds degrees from the University of Virginia and the University of North Texas, and currently teaches in Indiana. Recent work appears or is forthcoming in The Cincinnati Review and The Massachusetts Review.
Chelsea Wagenaar

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Author: Chelsea Wagenaar

Chelsea Wagenaar is the author of two collections of poetry, most recently The Spinning Place, winner of the 2018 Michael Waters Prize. Her first collection, Mercy Spurs the Bone, was selected by Philip Levine to win the 2013 Philip Levine Prize. She holds degrees from the University of Virginia and the University of North Texas, and currently teaches in Indiana. Recent work appears or is forthcoming in The Cincinnati Review and The Massachusetts Review.