Joe squats in the garden,
his clawed fingers scrabbling
at the dirt.
He mutters bracingly--
the vague mantra of a reluctant gardener--
and fistfuls of weeds,
their roots choked with potting soil,
go spinning overhead.
His sister, two years old and still cherubic,
toddles around him with a plastic bottle cap,
filling it up and dumping it out,
tilling the soil, in her little way.
She loves the dirt for its own sake,
quite apart from any politics.
They work quickly, he at his sporadic weeding
and she at her admiration,
but a storm is coming.
The smell of rain soaks the air and
the wind, free of its leash,
whips their hair into their faces.
He looks up, scanning for thunder
in the vacant-eyed clouds,
tasting the air,
for the shock of lightning upon it.
The first drops hit,
a languid avant garde,
and the sister pauses in her errand
to find the spots of skin
painted clean on her arm.
There is still time.
But a storm is coming.
He pulls more frantically at the stubborn weeds,
lashing against their roots,
his whole weight thrown into the business
of upending them.
The wind grows wilder and the rain
And then a distant peal of thunder,
like an angry dog,
Lightning arcs across the sky and paints
the day’s end in bas relief.
The signal has come!
Joe and his sister leap from their perches,
scattering toward the house in terrified excitement,
dirt and weeds trailing behind them,
she, squealing, but he,
They reach the door,
and pull it closed behind them--
an unfailing talisman against
the perilous weather--
then huddle, silent, against the glass
as the sky turns black and the rain screams toward the earth.