Picking An LP To Play During A Tornado
So I needed a one-track side after I read the take-cover
script for anyone listening to the campus FM. Green clouds!
I sent my boyfriend down the hall to a studio with no
outside window. I was twenty-one and always cheered for
the storm. Rooted for the Emergency Broadcast System,
its ten teletype dings, wind thumping a random drum, for
the station manager’s phone call: I heard! Put on Yessongs!
Say “Here’s music to get blown away by!” I rooted for sky
now black above our turntables, for that freakish nightfall
mid-afternoon, the nerve-zap of lightning, the silver silver
silver of rain, then a Niagara of it, then thunder. Thunder!
Seriously, now is no time to be on the quad, I told the mic,
and ducked under the mixing board. Crazy, crazy, this was
crazy, but I was used to men calling me a crazy chick. So
there I was, longing for a someday-job I knew they never
let girls with girlish voices have, especially a crazy chick
who rooted for twisters because she enjoyed the idea of God
pulling up buildings like weeds. My big secret? Faking
things. I quietly hated Yes, and Yessongs, but I played it:
too many notes, floods of notes! Stupid lyrics revolving
over my hiding place. The tornado hit two miles from town.
On the quad, Who-Was-His-Father-Again slouched in
beery mud with his pony-sized dog. He hadn’t listened to
me or anyone else. Didn’t have to then—or ever. The air
was sodden, rank as wet cardboard. What if I were the real
tornado? Someone unlocked the dining hall door: knife
and dish clatter. My boyfriend laughed. Meatloaf for dinner.
Editor’s Note: This narrative poem easily captures the invincibility of youth in the midst of disaster, rendering it exciting instead of terrifying.