Jenn’s First Cup: The Burden

The Burden

By Jenn Weinshenker

Storms comin in from the west
looks rough
wed better put up those chairs in the shed.

You think well have a tornado this time?

Might, could.

Look at those clouds.
Dont they look like the scales of a fish?
Have you ever seen such a thing before?

The wind is ripping through them trees
theyre all over the place
wed better pull in that table too.
Grab that end?

You know, I never thought about it before
But I wouldnt be surprised if thats what people thought.
Tornadoes were dragons flying around,
shaking the earth,
breathing smoke and fire
and destroying everything in its way?

It makes total sense.

I mean, we talk about it now and we know what tornadoes do.
If something heavy like a truck
Finds its way to the top of some tree
We are confounded by it.
People must have seen lots of immoveable things
Picked up and thrown the distance only a god could have?
Lightning must have been quite the arrow,
Thunder, thunder that could run through a tree
And electrocute a whole herd of sheep
Huddling together in the midst of the storm
How do you explain something like that
when you dont know what it is?

I can see that.
I know what tornadoes are
and they still scare me.
The sky is turning neon green.
Wed better get inside.
Have you seen Ruby?

No.
Is she out?

I think so.

Rubeee.
There you are girl.
Lets get you inside.

We hurried down the basement stairs
and crawled beneath the mattresses
we had propped up
against the far back
cement block wall.

We felt the wind rattling around our old brick house as
rain and hale pelted through the windows and walls.
It sounded like a war zone out there.

You think the house will hold?

Hope so.

The ground under the foundation
started to move,
like it was floating on waves of water.
For a brief instant it felt like all of the air
had been sucked out of the room,
and then
it got quiet.
No birds, no crickets,
not the sound of a human being,
nothing.
And then it hit again.

All night storms
carved their way through the prairieland corridor.
In the morning we heard voices murmuring outside.
We looked around.
There were streaks of light across the concrete floor.

Ruby was gone.
So was the house.

You okay?

Yeah, are you?

Im still alive
but my muscles are sore as hell.

We crawled out from under our soggy cave
and walked up the stairs into a
great big wide open.

Bright sparks of sun reflected off of shards of broken glass.
Bricks, splintered wood, kitchen appliances
and cars had been indiscriminately thrown over the
remaining
scrap yard.

At the corner we could see young people
walking away
so many of them
walking right off the end of the earth.
It was as though the whole planet was encircled by them.
And it didnt matter where you were in the line
Because it never ended
Not the spinning and
Not the people

They were hauling this bloodstained rope.
It was thicker than a mason’s fist.
From one shoulder to the next
they strained forward
and marched.

What are you carrying?

Dont know
but dont worry.
Were almost there.

We stood there and watched the living organism
carrying its burden
of muscle and flesh
without end
without complaint.

Contact the author at JWeinshenker@LTSaloon.org

2009 Jenn Weinshenker. All Rights Reserved.