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AR #60 Cover
number 60

by Michael Shea

What the Thunder Said

The thunder was looking for him, my brother said,
as we lay on the cool blue carpet, our elbows kneading
the cold cement beneath. He wanted to know
where our parents were in times like these: alone
in a dark house, severed from the power grid
whose steel sentries stood watch over the field
behind us but offered no support as we, propped up
on our elbows, jumped plastic coins on a checkerboard.

King me -- his hair almost white, almost thread --
suddenly lost in the bright flash and blue surge
that stormed the windows, burrowed under the curtains,
and flooded the living room where we lay till his face
was all blue and white and pale and there was no brother,
only room and carpet and gray cement beneath, all drowning.
I reached for his thin wrist like a life buoy,
bumping away on the open sea.

What I told him after was that the thunder has no real voice,
that it lost it long ago, gone hoarse from shouting,
and he asks me if it's like Father's voice some nights
and I tell him yes. What I should have told him though,
is that some nights I bolt upright in bed, wrapped
in a cocoon of sweaty blankets, with my hands,
too bony for nineteen, guarding my gut.
What I should have told him is that sometimes
I think even in the silence found in sunken caves
I would still hear the faint pump of my blood,
and the soft moan of seas of lava
churning beneath my feet.

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