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Cover image courtesy of photographer, Russ Taylor

The Centre Cannot Hold

All night the wind has fought with our cottage.
It wakes and unnerves that part of me
that is unsettled by such noise
as it is by all the colours of grey
we must live with throughout these summer days.

But your country has weather big enough for both of us.
It tumbles an outermost house into the sea
to careen on a stranger beach in Chatham,
or a tornado whips up Dorothy into another state.
Hurricanes with names benign as dimpled grand-aunts
come to tea and scones
but leave you stranded in their wake,
flood you with their grief.

A man once told me about the wind in Oklahoma.
It flung their screen door into Sam Weller's garden,
whipped one blade of straw from the barn
and drilled it right through the glass
of their kitchen window.
It held there, needle straight, the pane intact,
lights blown, food in the icebox melting.

Before its contents folded onto the floor
they were allowed eat all at once
pistachio, dark chocolate, black cherry,
while the straw lodged tight in its place,
broke their mother's back.

Our lives are built on vagaries of weather,
one well-aimed gust and the sandbars
of memory crumble at our feet.

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