Bruce Bond

July 8, 2015 Bond Bruce

Soliloquy of a Tornado in the Distance


I knew a girl once
who threw her breakables
at the dorm room wall
and cursed her redhead
lover in a strange tongue,
and all my friends at college
said, hell, she is Greek,
and he Irish, which meant
we understood nothing
of the glasswork that is
a human heart, the way
it glistens like the spit
in the screams of yes
that sexed the night to come.

And yes, it made us
envious, if bemused,
and no less sympathetic
with dread, to hear them
pound their affirmations
all the way in and then,
to spite us, farther in.
Attached at the places
they rubbed raw, they felt
the grip of something
which had as little to do
with each other, and us,
as wind with its sirens,
hammer with its nail.

Last night I dreamed of girls
in chairs at the dark edge
of the dance floor, and their
shyness made me shy,
a stranger in my skin,
and I turned from them
to the apple blossoms
in the window, the street-
walker scent of April
rising. And in the distance,
more lovely still, more
fierce in its skirt of trash:
a great tornado, dark arms
flailing, drawn this way.

So this is how a monk feels
on the mountain path
in a Japanese print,
only the parchment is on
fire. And terror the new
sublimity that scales you
down. The supplicant
becomes one small part
of the scene. The rest
the you that is not you,
just as disaster is not
a dream for the dreamer.
I was a new girl once
I never knew at all.

I sat in my dark chair
as the winds blew our windows
out, like candles, all
at once, and the blouses
shuddered. I see you,
said the wind in the strange
tongue of broken things,
the only tongue it knows.
I came before you
and so continue. And so
I understand nothing
of sacrifice and rage
and wicks that understand
nothing of the flame.

Hard to be sentimental
about a wind and be
the one you are. Why else
do you wake disheveled.
I knew a girl once
whose tirades got me off
and then, well, they got
a little boring. Move,
said the wind, and the hearts
of the wilderness seized,
listening. And then they heard
nothing. Only stillness.
And then they beat a little
faster. And faster still.



Bruce Bond is the author of thirty books including, most recently, Plurality and the Poetics of Self (Palgrave, 2019), Words Written Against the Walls of the City (LSU, 2019), Scar (Etruscan, 2020), Behemoth (New Criterion Prize, Criterion Books, 2021), The Calling (Parlor, 2021), Patmos (Juniper Prize, UMass, 2021), Liberation of Dissonance (Nicholas Shaffner Award for Literature in Music, Schaffner Press, 2022), and Invention of the Wilderness (LSU, 2022).