Saturday, May 28, 2011



Trees thrash in the clammy wind
and the sky looks bruised, off-color, splashed with
the unsettled and unwelcome afterbirth of the behemoth
that pulled the houses down, rolled the cars like dice,
and tore the child from the huddle in the tub,
untangled her from shelter 
of mother and brother,
sent her flying
to ride the whirlwind
off to Oz
or a drainage ditch.

Her mother sobs
off camera, the EMSA crew, the sheriffs
seem heavy with guilt as if their
uniforms and equipment should have
prevented the sorrow,
held back with their will, 
a vest, and a waved flashlight
the grinding windcircled debris
that ate the trees and the heart
of this place.

Does the child still fly
crying forever for her lost
bed, the safe arms, the world before
the blast or is she circling higher and higher
seeing the stars fold like origami
over the far land of the blessed,
putting her scattered laughter
into the wind?

May 2011

–noun the international radiotelephone distress signal, used by ships and aircraft.
Origin: 1925–30;  < French  ( venez ) m'aider  (come) help me

This poem is based on an actual incident which occurred during the outbreak of tornadoes in the Midwest and South on May 22-25, 2011, but I have altered details. On this weekend set aside to remember the dead of our wars, sympathy goes out to the families and individuals across the heartland who will be burying their dead from these events in the coming days and who will still suffer for many more days and years from the devastation they never saw coming.

Photo courtesy of, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma


  1. stars fold like origami...great sad how life can be torn apart in the blink of an eye, in ways we could never imagine...feel for those families that lost much in the recent storms...

    hope you have a great weekend hedge...

  2. This is wonderfully composed and beautifully sad.

    "... ... seem heavy with guilt as if their uniform and equipment should have prevented the sorrow..." a very astute observation.

    Anna :o]

  3. I was wondering when you were going to get around to this tangent of news from your neck of the woods--not the specific tale, but to address Mayhem with fingers that probe and find the deepest, most difficult wounds resulting from the winds; and press a soothing charm there. Searching for the child pulled into oblivion by a tornado here is a much different task than the desperate exhausted grieving diligence of the parents; you are able to search the high boughs of the wind for her, where the spiritual significance of stormy weather is found. For that lost child you create from mayhem's whirl a mobile of eternal solace and comfort. Fine, feral work, my friend. (After I heard that pieces of the hospital in Joplin were found seven miles away, I keep wondering if many of the missing will eventually be found in Oz-iike regions, either of mind or in relic of body, turning up far, far away) - Brendan

  4. So many people have lost their homes or loved ones, from tornado or flood this spring. I can't imagine. It's been the toughest of years for so many people. :-(

  5. I so admire "the stars like origami over the land of the blessed, putting her scattered laughter into the wind"......beautiful heartfelt writing, Hedge.So many people suffering right now. I cant think of anything worse than having your small child ripped away like that - truly horrifying.

  6. "...she circling higher and higher
    seeing the stars fold like origami
    over the far land of the blessed,
    putting her scattered laughter
    into the wind?"

    I am going with this option. Then I'll know as I travel the universe where that giggling will be coming from.

  7. I first felt that poetic gasp from the "tangle" of her mother and brother in the tub, already turning me upside down. And then she flies, and then she laughs, and then she gives it away. It's true that you can write this as the child's mother can't, and yet you are still in this wind's howl as a deep mother's would be, if a mother could see this far. Fine work that leaves me open at the top and the bottom as only the best poems do.

  8. Thanks for directing me here...the last stanza gives me chills.


"We make out of the quarrel with others, rhetoric, out of the quarrel with ourselves, poetry." ~William Butler Yeats