If We Speak of the Hurricane

of whiteness and the horn of plenty,
if it is even a horn; if there is such a thing
if destruction is ceaseless; if my son’s hand
reaches for a cotton blanket or a cat’s tail,
if we have our eyes on him, if I describe
his hand as pillowy; if the world is a tower
of breakable plates for the white son,
if he is unaware of the supernatural-
seeming inventions that sustain white hunger;
if Hades has its own horn made of ivory
for drinking; if hunger tightens the guts
of others; if it is described as inevitable
or accidental; if the description is written
by the same hunger; if he is just a boy
asking about justice at the mall;
if his father and I cannot help but love
his locomotive of curiosity, its erratic perpetuity,
shark, shots, Mars, if we wonder how it will end;
if zoo doctor, if astronomer, if madman;
if we speak of the white shark, if they are
nearly missing, if the bleaching of coral;
if the four of us trudge upstairs at bedtime
single file making train sounds are we acting
as a tribe; if we fear the world; if four feels a tribe;
if our son assigns himself the role of conductor;
if his sister laughs, cheek against my shoulder;
if I carry her body carefully like her body were glass,
a white object; if tired from school, my son dreams
of cities lit up and falling, fireflies collapsing,
bees and honey; if at school he traces letters
with happy concentration; if, using a push pin
to punch out the shapes of continents he asks
his teacher why he cannot punch out the ocean,
why just continents, why can’t he pin-punch the ocean;
if at school he pours water from a red pitcher
into a bowl, spills some, threads yarn through a card;
if twice yearly there is the interruption
of a lockdown drill, the crackling loudspeaker,
if his teacher asks anyone who is afraid
to raise their hand, if she says
              This is for the wild animal
              who may at any moment enter  

Copyright © 2018 Alison Powell. Used with permission of the author. This poem originally appeared in Hayden's Ferry ReviewFall-Winter 2017.