Extreme Weather
by Dina Elenbogen

The border says stop to the wind but the wind speaks another
language and keeps going
                                             Alberto Rios

They removed the fence that separates waves
from people walking There’s nothing between us

and water turning like oceans of larger coasts
The day we didn’t dig my uncle’s grave

a Derecho swept the shores
of Lake Michigan uprooted

ancient Maples American Ash
We ran against the darkening sky

sheltered indoors and watched
from a safe distance

His ashes danced
the rhythms of distant waters

They call it erosion when waves take
more than they give back

swallow the sand beneath our feet
If you walk away

from the lake towards the shadows
of hundred-year-old homes

you’ll see ladders still leaning
towards the roofs that failed

when hail bombarded us in April
the night before the holiday of plagues

We tried to collect ourselves and the shards
that landed in our gardens

Hands still raw from March winds
we planted against tyranny

and later gathered zucchini
tomatoes and basil

There were seeds that promised
to sprout but lay dormant

We watered throughout July’s drought
nodded at neighbors through cloth

masks and gloved knuckles
We kept turning the earth planting milkweed

next to dreams
of an ordinary life

It’s autumn and time
to remove the tangled roots

of what no longer bears fears
I had meant to write fruit What

no longer bears
fruit but fear accompanies

every gesture
I am writing to tell you that skies change suddenly

roots that seem deep can be lifted
by November wind

Listen closely nearby is the water
we call life

Previously published in December magazine (Fall/Winter 2021).

PHOTO: Lake Michigan waves by Jill Wellington.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Dina Elenbogen, a widely published and award-winning poet and prose writer, is author of the memoir Drawn from Water (BKMk Press, University of Missouri) and the poetry collection Apples of the Earth (Spuyten Duyvil, NY). Her work has appeared in anthologies, including Fury: Women’s Lived Experience During the Trump Era (Regal Books, 2020) City of the Big Shoulders (University of Iowa Press), Beyond Lament (Northwestern University Press), Where We Find Ourselves (SUNYPress), Rust Belt Chicago Anthology, and magazines and journals, including Lit Hub, December magazine, Prairie Schooner, Poet Lore, Bellevue Literary Review, Woven Tale Press, Tiferet, Tikkun, Paterson Literary Review, Connecticut River Review, New City Chicago, and the Chicago Reader. The recipient of fellowships in poetry and prose from the Illinois Arts Council and the Ragdale Foundation, she has a poetry MFA from the Iowa Writer’s Workshop. She teaches creative writing at the University of Chicago Graham School, where she received the Excellence in Teaching Award. Dina also consults individually with writers on creative projects. Visit her at dinaelenbogen.com.