Claire McQuerry

Who has seen

 …when the leaves hang trembling,
The wind is passing through.   –Christina Rosetti

I don’t sleep in such wind—
the doors guttering
in their jambs, shutters
tugging their hooks.

On the way from Indio: a ridgeline of tall, white poles, their propellers always harvesting & a sun
rises behind the turbines, as if to say
even in exile, a home.

A wind witch may catch fire
& fly, a wind-lifted
torch, destroying soy fields, corn.
This is the West I know.

 I’ll huff and I’ll puff—

The fairy tale frightened me
more than others.
House of paper, house of sticks.

Sky turning
thick & yellow, grit sifting
noses, ears, the unsealed
lip of a window ledge.

The winds are everywhere right now, says Marie.

Gusts that sheared the locust tree
off at its base.  Mother said
the garden was crushed beneath it:
young dogwood, tool shed, nest
of raccoons. 

Stillness
before a twister descends:
its chaos a focused column
in which a semi, a double-wide might rise.
                        When you hear the sirens,
                        run for cover.

Windbreak: a frame of poplars at the farmstead’s edge.

At a picnic, when the air
darkened & a wind picked up,
mother caught the tablecloth, egg sandwiches
scattered, her friend
slung my brother into the car, lifting
me, kicking, under the other arm.

Who has seen the wind? the poet asks,
all night its whining
a presence,

a world gusting around that cabin, tent,
sheltering structure,
wherever you hope to rest your head.

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Claire McQuerry's collection Lacemakers won the Crab Orchard First Book Prize, and her poems have been published in Tin House, Western Humanities Review, Fugue, Poetry Northwest and other journals. She is an Assistant Professor at Kutztown University.