Haibun After a Tornado in Pennsylvania

The late summer brings forth baseball, roses, and wreckage. A chainsaw roars. The high school gym roof gapes open and unmasked to the cloudless sky. Guests survey the damage. A prostrate street sign blasts the words Left Lane Must Turn Left pinned to the concrete. A tree limb excalibered deep into soil. Children grasp and tug, then give up on removing it. Smells of wet grass and sawdust. A family drags debris to the curb, first fence posts, then shingles, then a pink plastic doll house. Second-floor bedroom pried open, cross-sectioning bookshelves, wall, insulation. On one roof, blue tarp flaps while across the street, a patio table and three chairs stand in tea-party formation. It is somehow the most perfect day of the summer. Pennsylvania is not in Tornado Alley yet this year there have been 28. A pickup truck stops in front of a house. The driver plunks a case of bottled water on the curb, then drives to the next house.  A neighbor is leaning on her car, head down. When the passerby nods to her, says, I’m so sorry, she starts talking and she can’t stop. I’ve lived here all my life, she says, Never saw anything like it. I’ll never forget the sound, like a train, she says. I don’t know why I’m telling you this.


Look at that steel strung

around the high oak branches –

like it was woven.

The author of three chapbooks including We Marry We Bury We Sing or We Weep, which was named a runner-up in Moonstone Arts’ Chapbook Contest in 2021 (Moonstone Press), Faith Paulsen’s poetry and prose have appeared in many venues including Ghost City Press, Book of Matches, Thimble, Evansville Review and Mantis. Faith lives and writes in the Philadelphia area where she and Barton Sacks raised three sons. Please check out her website at https://www.faithpaulsenpoet.com/.