Protesting the Tornado

Tornados make no mistakes.
We agree on this least of beliefs,
that after disaster walls collapse
back to ideas of houses,
our careful game
knocked to basic elements:
raw planks, exposed nails.
But I need to tell you:
weather happens—designless.

Apocalypse, it feels like,
when the wet and the noise
is so much bigger than us,
we shivering mutts in this night closet.

You sing hymns—things fall apart.
You praise the weapon, the rain mountain
reversed into a grinding top, punishment
for the new Babel of Main Street USA.
You invoke God-the-terrorist and march
as his territorial army, stock-arming
violent winds alongside firearms,
crucifixes, and damning placards.

I need to tell you
I cannot fight you,
the way prey does not turn
to be consumed by its predator—your species
who eats your saviour
and wears the instrument of his torture
at your throat.

I’m here to warn you
about the end of days,
about the delicate finger of Chance
that comes for us all.
Someday it will hover, just
above your shoulder,

terrifying & meaningless.

Originally published in Poetry International.

Jennifer Matthews is a Missourian who has been living in Ireland for two decades now. She was part of Poetry Ireland’s Introductions Series, and her poem “Monsters” was shortlisted for the Hennessy/Irish Times New Writing award. She misses toasted ravioli and big muddy rivers, and is putting together her first full collection of poems.