artwork: ralph murre
by Karla Huston
We clutched together in a screen tent,
nine of us lurching between
tent poles and gusts, watching
clouds gather up in the west,
the angry wave of them
hovered over the
bluffs like a black wall.
Then the wind huffed down the face
of the limestone, threw clay
and trees onto highways
and shorelines. We shivered
and while the sky slung bullets,
the old man reared back, spit mud
and clams and weeds.
The rain made sodden debris
of tents and sleeping bags
while under the plastic canopy
we passed the bourbon--an amber torch,
the burning liquor the only thing
that quenched the quarrel outside.
~ first published in Poet Lore: 2002