July 24, 2009

Thunder Birds

Lightning called and I answered. I always answer. Three silver birds danced around the spot-lit stone. The peregrines, I imagined, whom we had worked so hard to raise on those man-made cliffs. They had rewarded us in their yearly return. Now they taught their chick to play in the eddies rising from July-warmed stone into cool night air. The clouds were thin behind them, soft gray patches against the deep blue of newly fallen night. The lightning caressed them pink around the edges. The birds wheeled and dove, so close, upon The Sower, the great bronze statue, arm outstretched, atop that golden dome ringed round with many-colored Thunderbirds.

They could be pigeons, I thought, only my fanciful mind labeling them royalty. The thunder rolled in at last and the screeching call rang back, soprano to its bass, and I knew them for what they were. Calm became rush. The peregrines danced on the storm, unafraid against the flag-snapping wind. They spiraled each other, coming close for a kiss, then ranging far, like leaves in an eddy.

Forked power snapped out from The Sower to me. Hair stood on end as I clung to the metal rail, against all sense. I would have climbed to the edge, had the wind been any ounce less, or assailed the heights of the stone tower itself if I could, to thrust myself at the sky. Perhaps some time soon, I will answering the call for the last time. Not tonight. The clouds graced me with cold kisses. I watched the cyclists peddle furiously below, trying to outrace the storm. They should know better. In winning the race, they lose the glory.

It is for nights like these, I wish there were a God. I would like to share this with him. The silver-lit birds disappeared behind the stone and did not return, tucked tight against the night. I stood and watched for them, strained to see, half blinded by light and dark. The thunder rolled without release, like a stampede, a thousand hooves upon the earth of the sky. These things above all others I shall miss when I am gone from here – the stone tower, the fearless wild things, the sunset thunderstorms.

But no matter where the wind takes me, I shall always answer when the lightning calls.


Kavita said...

Why w-o-u-l-d you even touch a metal rail when there's lightning, Monica?

Monica said...

Because lightning is very, very, very unlikely to strike my apartment building, metal fire escape or not, with the capitol building and all those oak trees right there. The capitol is a natural lightning rod and it's several hundred feet taller (capped with a handy metal statue), and many of the oak trees on the block are also taller than my four-story building. So far as I know, in the 92 years of its life, my building shows no evidence that it has ever been struck by lightning. Actually getting hit by lightning is extremely rare, even in the most storm-prone areas. Granted, it's still probably not the smartest thing to do in the world, but riding my bicycle is actually more dangerous.