Lightning Flash, a Strobe Dream

Where will I ever go to chant new poems now?
And beauty that enchants: it’s finished at this thatch hut.

— Du Fu, “Lament for My Kindred Tree,” trans., David Hinton (published February 25, 2020)

Another night.

Another night and another night
with more minutes than hours.
In weather like this, it seems
more hours awake than minutes asleep.

Wind and I are up together to answer male needs,
relieve the pressures of night on aging systems,
mine if not Earth’s.
If Earth is tired as well
it may mostly be of me and of my human-kind.

Wind blunders around the dark
swinging lamp on the sleeping-porch.
Stumbles over my windowsill.

Wind and I blunder together toward the bathroom
but we glance outside.
If that ancient kindred jackpine snaps, shudders
cabinward, I need to see what happens. But

I don’t want to be here when what happens
happens. Whether I see between lightning-strikes
or not— wind from the east—I’m his target.
But who is “He”?

My cabin is cousin to these pines,
the last of their race around my house—
cabin born of lumber slash and slash fire ashes.
All dying now out—for what does not?—
of senility aborning

Pines of our cabin, the Folly,
are maybe a couple of generations older
than these loyal decrepit pines.
Maybe the Folly will protect me.

It has over and over again—
especially the thirty years I was elsewhere—
remembering, prodigal to our mutual care.
Kindredship blossoms with ages and space.

I see, feel the pine bend, snap back and back again,
watch through a strobe light of lightning flash.
Nature’s manic kinetoscope.

In the only second of perfect darkness
I hear the tree snap
I look east toward the splintered dawn again.

I am glad at what I cannot see beyond the lightning
or hear beyond the thunder to where some gods approach
through imperfect darkness.

Shadow deities loom gray through the invisible
pink of no dawn at all.
Toward me. Alone.

And He? The lightning? Wind? Fate?
The fierce wind bellows,
a bull charging out of the east across the lake.

Or are my fiends and follies only myself alone, with
no more than the whirling singular night for company?
The storm I must have wished for.

Richard Fenton Sederstrom was raised and lives in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona and the North Woods of Minnesota. Sederstrom is the author of seven books of poetry, his newest book, Icarus Rising, Misadventures in Ascension, published by Jackpine Writers' Bloc, was released last winter. Read other articles by Richard Fenton.