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Boy Struck by Lightning Survives


what he was

St. Elmo's boy, St. Vitus dance,
Franklin's poor fool left holding the key.
Call him Ahab, ensnared,
snapped up in the lines, strapped
to the quivering column of whiteness.
Call him Jonah, spewed up,
his spiked hand bleached, pointing upward,
like a Joshua tree in a desert rain.
He knows the name of the fire that has found him.
He sings the accurate God.

what he saw

Slender lines alive in the light,
the swirl of magician's wands,
the dance macabre in the veins
of an old woman's legs,
chiaroscuros of the blind,
eyesockets of snakes,
spun gyros, filaments,
the wrinkled skin of the air,
every jot and tittle,
the blue and red whirlygigs
pulsing on the walls of the placenta.

what he will do

The teachers will let him stare out the window.
He will dream of King Midas, his scarred hands,
of pickpockets and frightened assassins,
of the concentric grooves inside a gun barrel.
He will know the umpire's loneliness,
the idiot's keen delight.
He will stand by the buck fence
at the end of the clearing
and wait for the sky to fill up,
the way he will wait for his father
to come home in the twilight,
the black Buick coming lonely over the rise.
He will become a surveyor,
will move a man slowly across the horizon,
like a lost cloud that he suddenly halts,
his hand held high in the air.


John Hodgen

In My Father's House
Lynx House Press


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