The Black Napkin Volume 1 Issue 5 - Page 7

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Twisted oklahoma

by Gregg Shapiro

What does a tornado want? Your rippling skin, bent

hair. Lungs outside your body, shallow breath merging

with whipping wind gusts and dirty, smoky exhalation.

Debris so thick in your eyelashes that muddy streaks

roll down your tear-stained face. Your bones, limbs

warped into unfamiliar shapes. Farm animals dancing

in an upside down kick-line to music so dissonant

that deafening is a blessing. The tornado is a show-off,

an undefeated arm wrestler willing to accept any

challenge to lift the unliftable, raze what can’t be

raised. Hurricanes fear tornados, nameless name

callers, playground tormentors, the uninvited guest

who shows up empty-handed hours before the party

starts or long after it has ended, the hosts temporarily

tucked in until the fatal knock on the door. The door

is now a shadow, a sham. A shame it couldn’t stay

shut, ashamed of its splintered, shattered self. Windows

grit their glass teeth, grimace, rattle. Nothing is where

it was – not roofs and shingles, not walls or bricks, not

traffic lights or traffic. Tornados aren’t content with

simply misplacing, relocating or burying your house

pets or children. They prefer the hunt and seek,

solo or search party, the agony of disappointment to

the exhilaration of discovery. Tornados leave graffiti

on the scarred earth, scratch death threats in the soil

with car parts, tree trunks and branches, sheet metal

and wooden planks, pillars and posts. If you survive,

a heart-shaped bruise discolors your heart while you

dig through the rubble for anything that resembles

something else. Tornados watch from a safe distance,

dream up new acts of devastation, send unsigned

hate mail with no return address and postage due.