What is a Storm?


It struck me every day
The lightning was as new
As if the cloud that instant slit
And let the fire through.

It burned me in the night
It blistered in my dream;
It sickened fresh upon my sight
With every morning’s beam.

I thought that storm was brief,—
The maddest, quickest by;
But Nature lost the date of this,
And left it in the sky.

~ Emily Dickinson

Emily Dickinson needs no introduction, and the poem above is from her book Poems by Emily Dickinson, Three Series, Complete.

Poems by Emily Dickson

Last night, I turned to Emily Dickinson again. What is it with this woman? In any case, the book was already turned to the poem above, “The Soul’s Storm”, when I reached for it. Call that a coincidence! Because I don’t know what it is.

But I believe, in this case, I had to revisit the word “storm” and truly learn the meaning of it. You see, the word recently came up in a discussion/conversation, and I think I romanticized the word and gave dignity it doesn’t deserve this time. Because…

“I thought that storm was brief,—”

The line above captures exactly what I had in mind, when I said “the storm doesn’t last…there’s always a rainbow.” How shallow does this sound, when I didn’t know where the storm was blowing from! So, now I say, “Fuck the storm!”

“[For] Nature lost the date of this,
And left it in the sky.”

But, what is a storm? It is a tempest of words rising against pain to paint the sky with rainbows.

special note: Yesterday I heard some shocking news from a friend, and this poem by Emily Dickinson is shared in support. I’m also linking this post to Trinkets and Armor 4: Life Can’t Smack You Powerless, If You Keep Your Self at the Ready

Learning to Weed

”Water is taught by thirst” ~ Emily Dickinson

Sun stands tall and beats my bent back into droplets of water. I pull with fury roots of a stinging nettle infesting the garden.

It seems a futile effort to keep fighting this pest that robs me of joy; walking outdoors barefoot with skirts blown high by gentle breeze, arms outstretched, and laughter competing with songs of summer. I pause.

Rowing boat on the lake

i sit next to water
and think of how delicious
is the taste of freedom

Young and tender no more, leaves of the plant envelope everything it touches and litter seeds to spread the rash. I persevere.

i ponder
the hullabaloo
the trumming sound

Larvae feeding on stinging nettle

Weed keeps flourishing and rubbing people I love the wrong way. I persist, plucking root by root. Sun continues to smirk.

i thirst water from home
a verse to confirm
freedom still tastes as good
for bogus rumours
spread across the ocean

Sun stands tall and beats everything into shape. Birds and mosquitoes alike flee for shelter. I keep on weeding as I try to swallow words, I can’t spit, stuck in my dry throat.

i hear of deliverance
power of salty waters;
sweat and tears

Oh, the metamorphosis! Happy is the larva. Weed has its use. Caterpillar famished feeds, pupa nesting new life starts to dance, and beauty blooms. Fury flaps delicate like wings of a butterfly.

i taste freedom twice.

(not a direct result of the feeding larvae above)

process note: This piece was first inspired by a different piece I wrote for a poetry contest on healthy self-love and self-care.

It was also inspired by the current Finnish summer record temperatures. They say it’s never been this hot since 1976. Luckily, we didn’t go hiking this summer as we normally do. But rather planned a quite time in the countryside.

So, I’ve been courting water (lots of swimming to keep cool) and Emily Dickinson as I weed my garden for butterflies to bloom. And it turns out, water represents cleansing, life and freedom.

Abandoned Shoes

He wears them once. In good shape he leaves them for future generations to use. Like a Cinderella story, many try in vain. Lined around the ankles some manage to use, only for a while. Padding no good, slippage persists. Clumsy walk causes a loud discord of discourse —shoes too big to fit.

Carving epitaphs
greatness clothed in vigilance
—the price of freedom

For Poets United

Nelson Mandela Museum at Qunu, Mthatha

note: The poem is in honour of Nelson Mandela International Day.