One of the groups on Goodreads with which I am casually associated has weekly challenges and prompts. As I have been away from regular participation not only in my blog, but just about everywhere else on the ‘net, I had not submitted anything in the past few weeks. When I saw this week’s prompt, however, I knew I had to carve out some time to write one, because as soon as I saw the word, “Lightning,” I immediately was lost in the recollection of an incredible natural light show which I was privileged to witness when I was eleven years old. The poem will likely change significantly after undergoing some severe editing, but I decided to share my experience, (even in rough draft), etched in my memory, with all of you.
I wish you, as always, the blessings of the abundance of enough. . .
It was the evening of a perfect day spent on the water,
cruising, and barbecue-feasting on a boat with the company
of family and friends. A white-hot day, wrapped in air as thick
as boiled molasses, with but our steady progress
along the lazy river to keep us cool and content.
I was eleven years old that summer. The future
was not on my mind. Each day was enough,
more than enough, surrounded by friends,
encircled by family, the sleeve of my life
was not yet raveled, and dreams were a comfort.
“Daddy, where is the rain?” I asked, as
darts of light seamed the horizon, followed
by low rumbles in the distance. But no clouds,
no rain, no wind stirred the heavy air; the boat
came to a halt, we set anchor to watch the sky.
“Heat lightning, not a storm,” my father answered,
distracted, as the arcing light exploded above us.
The air was charged, the voltage rose as the sun set,
we were surrounded by electric fire, the air
suffused with ozone, overture ended, the show began.
Surprised by brilliant light, we watched slack-jawed, as the
universe let down her hair, showing us who she is.
We fell silent. Any man-made sound would have been
pitiful response, unworthy of the extravagant display.
Lightning on steroids, incomparable, inimitable, splendid.
I ran below decks, covering my ears, trembling, but
such shelter was no comfort. Alone in darkness
was worse than cacophony with my companions.
I climbed the stairs, returning to watch the sky
tear apart and loose the giant, jagged shards of light.
I felt at once I had no future. The endless
celestial performance surely foretold the end
of us, the world, the universe. Enough was no more,
nor want, nor excess. The climax of creation
neared. A shivering thrill raced through me.
Ready for the end, my resigned heart calmed, and then
the noise of apocalypse began a decrescendo. Perplexed,
I shook my head, I tore my eyes from the sky, to see
my parents and the others lose interest in the diminished show.
Drawn again to the heavens, I alone saw the final act.
In my mind’s eye the sight remains, unchanged.
To this day it often streaks through my dreams,
awesome or awful, as dreams will play. No sound,
with no ovation but my transfixed attention, it rolled –
an immense, and perfect orb. The ball of fire ripped across the sky.
I have never seen another, nor any sight to compare
with what I saw that summer night so very long ago.
Today, the noisy thunder, and blue-white forks of light
that seek the ground – they are but shadows, transporting
me to that keystone moment, tied to memory’s kite-tail.