Lenora Castillo

Second Guessing the Storm

From Tide-water baptism. Digital Repository @ Iowa State University, 1998

We watch the storm building to the west,
imitate the way Dad holds his head,
draws in a deep breath.

He says, “You can smell the rain
before you see the blue streaks
on the horizon. You can smell hail,
see the gray-green blush in the clouds,
just before the hail drops.”

Like Dad, we ignore the storm,
make fast work of the rows that lead us
to the far end of the field. We listen for the signal:
a loud, high whistle and the wide-arch wave of his white hat.

Yet, when it comes we’re startled, unsure of what to do.
The first fat drops of cold rain
sends us sprinting toward the pickup,
leaping over rows of fragile pinto beans,
past Momma, who refuses to run.

Dad towers over her using his hands and his arms
like a human umbrella, shielding her
from the pea-sized hail that has begun to fall.

As he starts the pickup, he pulls his hat
low over his eyes in preparation
for the cold ride home.

Castillo, Lenora. “Tide-water baptism” (1998). Retrospective Theses and Dissertations. Paper 7096. Iowa State University; Ames, Iowa.