KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 1: Fall 2014
Prose Poem: 213 words [R]

The Man Struck Twenty Times by Lightning

by Maxine Chernoff

I’ve known him so long I’ve almost forgotten the first photo he showed me, the helpless orphan in the cloud-like bonnet abandoned in a rainstorm. And the scrapbook: Boy Struck by Lightning on Little League Field. Teen Struck by Lightning at Graduation Exercise. Bride and Groom Struck by Lightning at Altar—One Dies.

Extraordinary, yes, but his relationship with lightning, which seems the most personal in nature, no longer astounds me. I sometimes think of lightning as his pushy employer. At other times he is the master, lightning the recalcitrant servant. He is the ship, lightning the captain. He is the captain, lightning the challenging sea. He is the countryside, lightning the endless white fence.

Often I wonder whether he’s contrived the danger to make his attachments more tender. I must admit I can’t think of the speed of lightning without some tears. In this way I’m like the mother of the infant born with a full set of teeth. Night after night she lies awake examining the record books, imagining his dubious future.

“Charlatan,” I say on rainy nights, for he’s never been struck in my presence. Yet with every weather forecast I fear his loss, knowing I’d miss those singed greetings, those thunderous good-byes.

— From Ms. Chernoff’s collection of selected prose poems, Evolution of the Bridge (Salt Publishing: United Kingdom, 2004); reprinted by permissions of author and publisher

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