197: Tornado Child

197: Tornado Child

Tornado Child
by Kwame Dawes

                              For Rosalie Richardson

I am a tornado child.
     I come like a swirl of black and darken up your day;
     I whip it all into my womb, lift you and your things,
     carry you to where you’ve never been, and maybe,
     if I feel good, I might bring you back, all warm and scared,
     heart humming wild like a bird after early sudden flight.

I am a tornado child.
     I tremble at the elements. When thunder rolls my womb
     trembles, remembering the tweak of contractions
     that tightened to a wail when my mother pushed me out
     into the black of a tornado night.

I am a tornado child,
     you can tell us from far, by the crazy of our hair;
     couldn’t tame it if we tried. Even now I tie a bandanna
     to silence the din of anarchy in these coir-thick plaits.

I am a tornado child
     born in the whirl of clouds; the center crumbled,
     then I came. My lovers know the blast of my chaotic giving;
     they tremble at the whip of my supple thighs;
     you cross me at your peril, I swallow light
     when the warm of anger lashes me into a spin,
     the pine trees bend to me swept in my gyrations.

I am a tornado child.
     When the spirit takes my head, I hurtle into the vacuum
     of white sheets billowing and paint a swirl of color,
     streaked with my many songs.

"Tornado Child" by Kwame Dawes from MIDLAND by Kwame Dawes, copyright © 2000 Ohio University Press. Used by permission of Ohio University Press