by Rebecca Ethridge

The lightning stalks me
as if it sees the heat of my body.
Its infrared eyes hunt my blood
which runs with my fear. Light strikes
outside the windows I’ve taped
against hurricane winds,
but the panes become like liquid
when lightning strikes again
and again—
and again I am ten
hidden in the single bathroom
under the plastic play table meant
to catch the ceiling if it falls.
Although I am small, my toes still peek out,
exposed. In this powerless house,
I watch the lightning outside
the hallway window spread across the sky
like the lace doilies my mother places
on the dinner table for looks—which I
sometimes take for my Barbie family
so they can eat supper
together at their tiny table,
even though I know my mother
will break things apart.
For now, she says, we’re in the eye.
I need to hide because
lightning seeks out the tallest trees,
and our neighbor across the street has the tallest one.
Lightning will come, strike the top,
break things apart, strike again
and again—
and against the strikes, I will use this
lightning as a sort of sun, tell myself to
wake up—
I’m not really here or back there anymore.

Rebecca Ethridge is originally from Central Florida, but upon craving mountains and a change of seasons, she moved to Asheville, North Carolina. She tutors students at Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College in all aspects of the writing process. Her poetry can be found in Kakalak, The Alembic, and The Great Smokies Review.