Editor’s Choice: 2023 Sandy Crimmins Poetry Contest
and lightning and how if you count the seconds
between the flash and the rumble, you can tell how close
the sky is to becoming a guillotine. I once saw lightning split
a tree trunk in half. Thunder didn’t follow for another ten
seconds. Sand can turn to glass. Did you know that? Each shard
settles at the base of my spine. What happens when they no longer
keep me fused together? If I stare out of a car window long enough
will my reflection disappear completely? Would you will it to happen?
Yesterday, they recorded upside-down lightning in a Kansas town
and it reminded me of a long-downed tree in the local cemetery—
how it looks like a hand getting ready to pluck the tombstone
straight from the ground. I can’t remember the etched name
in the stone but I remember thinking how I wished it was mine.
For the storm to make me an offering: Say, here I’m going to shelter you
for a while. It’s not true what they say about remembering. The lobes
could be ripped out electrical cords, cause a surge—unpower what
I should have forgotten: your birth year, how you smelled on a Tuesday
afternoon, the drawn-out agony. I was once told that thunder was just god
and the angels bowling. How I listened for the cheers after each strike
of a pin. I’m still counting the seconds between entering this world
and being taken out. What I mean to say is when the thunderclap
sends the windows singing, I want my end to be a white-hot echo.
Erica Abbott (she/her) is a Philadelphia-based poet and writer whose work has previously appeared or is forthcoming in Button Poetry, Midway Journal, Kissing Dynamite, The Broadkill Review, and other journals. She is the author of Self-Portrait as a Sinking Ship, is a Best of the Net nominee, and volunteers for Button Poetry, Write or Die, and Variant Literature.