We never had a volcanic eruption on Old Mill Road.
Tornados, floods and earthquakes hit someplace else.
What we do get are thunderstorms that knock power
out immediately after every first lightning strike.
Six kids huddle on the porch watching it pour down,
ordered inside by Mom before getting struck ourselves,
find no television, radio, record player or lights other
than the Yankee candle burning on the kitchen table.
Sitting in our regular chairs, three boys on one side,
three girls on the other, all looking at the candle glow
while Dad lights the coal oil stove in the living room
for Mom to heat up refrigerator leftovers for supper.
Unable to see what is put on our plate, we eagerly
dig in to squash, okra, turnips, liver, and peas,
picked over and whined about at any other meal,
now hidden in scalloped potatoes and scrambled eggs.
Spigots are avoided during lightning storms in fear
a strike could be conducted through pipes to the sink,
another reason to eat everything on our plate because
the girls won’t be able to wash the dishes tonight.
Not wanting to venture from the candle or each other,
we do knock-knocks, riddles, sing songs or tell stories
to not-be-so-quiet Mom will get her rosary to lead us
in Our Fathers, Hail Marys and forever shall it be, Amen.
This poem first appeared in Poetry Quarterly (August 2015).
Used here with the author’s permission.