Thursday, August 18, 2005

Always there is a risk, a gamble, hard choices to make.

"Hailstorm, 1965" by Twyla Hansen, from Potato Soup. © The Backwaters Press.



Hailstorm, 1965

Q: What is the largest hailstone in the US?
A: There have been six reports of hailstones eight inches in diameter.

-The Weather Channel

It was the summer I turned sixteen, one brother
was soon to be married and we'd sold the farm.
I remember wanting desperately to be kissed.

Everything wavered on some kind of edge, elm trees
a graceful dome over the dusty streets. Nothing to warn,
only cumulonimbus clouds in the afternoon, intense up—

drafts, sky hazed sulfur-green, hail starting as crystalline
seeds that grew to marble-size, geometrically then,
to the size of softballs, clattering heavy against metal,

wood, glass, against the only small world we knew.
All the west windows in the high school, every roof,
field corn stripped down to stubs, lives shattered

that day by crop failure, gouges, even holes in the ground.
There had never been any guarantee. Always there is
a risk, a gamble, hard choices to make. My oldest brother

and I scooped out stones that ripped through
the ragtop of his '62 Impala. I can't imagine hail the size
of a melon. Somehow that day I sensed that youth

had dissipated, that through the vapor of downed leaves
and broken branches, there would always be another crisis,
and another close call, and yet there was something more out there

circling, the open road where I drove west—my oldest brother dozing
in the passenger's seat, my learners permit in tow—eighty on I-90
toward Missoula, toward the end of what we know now as innocence.

via "The Writer's Almanac"

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