John Moessner: “Tornado”


The crowd billowed into the entryway, mingling
in the low pressure of a midtown lunch break,
coats gray as the clouds piling up above the restaurant.

The rumble of voices was cut by the tornado siren.
Customers crouched in the walk-in, under tables,
the bathroom stalls, everyone hugging interior walls,

the floor wet with rainwater from their shoes.
A line cook, hearing the slice of siren sharpen itself
along the electric air, grabbed a kitchen knife

and ran outside, pushing against a swarming front
of bodies rushing for cover. Deliberate as a freight train,
she chanted some words of protection and slashed

the air, her voice coming and going in fierce breaths,
spun prayers thrown at the sky, becoming wind.

John Moessner works as a legal writer for an immigration law firm. His poems have appeared or will appear in Arts & Letters, New Ohio Review, North American Review, Poet Lore, and River Styx.

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