When my son asks me what is a tsunami,

I tell him it is a giant wave,

Caused by a volcano or an earthquake,

That can make the ocean floor shift and

We look it up on the computer together,

And I say things like seismic activity and

Water displacement, before he asks me

If it can kill people,

And I know he is imagining it,

Water that rises up and

Washes over cities and people,

Covering them and not letting go.

And I turn off the computer,

Turn off the television, where

There is news of a tornado ripping

Across Oklahoma, ripping a city

Into pieces, flattening it, and lifting

Cars up into the air like toys, crushing

Houses and schools, how

Over twenty people are dead,

And nine of them, they say, are children.

Later I will find my two sons in the kitchen,

Spinning in circles,

Laughing and falling down, and

I will tell them stop or how they can get hurt,

And I will think about how close they are to it,

To this world and what it can do,

How there are tornados and tsunamis

And war, and how their hearts will fill

With sadness, like blood, for cities

That they have never been to, or

How, one day, I will have to tell them,

That I have seen people fall from the sky,

And I watch them spin,

Let them keep going,

Because I am thinking

No and not yet.

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2 Responses to Spin

  1. Eileen O'Farrell says:

    Beatifully written!

  2. Love that last line. The “not yet” really added that helplessness of the unknowable.

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