It was not the storm

that broke me or the storm
before it or the storm before it.
Ciara, Brendan, Atiyah, even
distant Ophelia or Freya.

It was not the winter storms
of 2013 – 2014 before storms
were given alphabetical names.
It was not the St Jude storm,

the London or Birmingham
tornadoes, Storm Kyrill – killer
of 11 people, the Great Storm
of 1987 or any of the storms

before I was born in 1981.
It was not the cliché of the storm
within although winds have swept
through my branches broken

my fingers swayed me that way
and this like a sapling turned me over
like a hay wheel rattled me like
a bag on a barbed wire fence.

Rain has flooded my landscape,
rising up over my pagodas and bins,
my fountain and its four nymphs,
washed away all my bridges,

receded to leave a mottle of reed,
rainbow puddles to splash wellies in,
birches surprising in their reflections
like Rimbaud illuminated in 1876.

It has cleaned and cleansed me.
My Taekwondo belt is blue and green.
I am learning O Jang I but I do not
call myself Master of the Wind

for I do not know what broke me –
childhood bullying, a neurotic father,
a defective gene or something deeper
within? But it was not the storm.

*Arthur Rimbaud wrote his Illuminations in 1876.
**O Jang means ‘Wind’ and it is the fifth pattern in WTF Taekwondo.
***I wrote this poem in the aftermath of Storm Ciara during which the Ribble broke her banks at Avenham and Miller Parks and further upriver.

5 thoughts on “It was not the storm

  1. Aurora J Stone says:

    I was wondering if there was any impact from the storm where you live. We got lots of wind and lashing or rain down here. Am so glad that we had taken out as much of the mistletoe from the orchard trees around us, or I’m sure some would have gone down. I suppose, unfortunately, we will have to get used to this kind of weather in the years to come.

    • lornasmithers says:

      Yeah… unfortunately it isn’t going to get any better. More barricades on flood defenses on rivers and seas are only going to cost loads and make things worse whereas the money would be better spent relocating people in areas that are going to flood and allowing the waters to have their way.

  2. Greg Hill says:

    In spite of the damage they cause, yes storms can ‘cleanse and clean’ (whether without or within) if we can ride them and inhabit their wildness. What ‘breaks’ us is, as you imply, another matter entirely. A stirring and moving conclusion.

  3. Vyviane Armstrong says:

    Thank you for sharing this. I had a moment of “Oh Lorna has anxiety, I have anxiety! Same-Same as Lorna, Huzzah” It was a weird moment but a moment and I appreciate you being so open about your own struggles.

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