July night storm

National weather radio bleats
a warning to wake the dead,
enough to wake us, for sure.
“Thunderstorms coming,
severe, high winds, penny-size hail,
take cover take cover take cover,”
says the computer voice.

I try to sleep again,
re-reading a library book on my iPad,
almost asleep when
weather radio bleats again:
“The following counties”
and “Highway 94 from milepost to milepost,”
but not our county, not our highway
yet.

As I read, lightning flashes in the window,
but the air conditioner roars louder than thunder.

Every fifteen minutes.
Bleat, repeat.
Now we are included on the watch list
and a tornado is on the ground
somewhere else.

Suddenly,
no radio
no air conditioner
no lights.
Brighter outside, darker inside,
fumbling for flashlights.

The hardwired smoke alarm,
powerless and unhappy,
beeps every thirty seconds.

To read, perchance to sleep.
Damn — book over.
No electricity, no wifi, no library.

Rain falls, wind keens,
howls, roars —
Is this what a tornado sounds like?
Down to the basement,
cat in one arm,
flashlight in the other.
Find WCCO on the phone,
Find the weather has moved beyond us.

Back upstairs,
I lie awake,
listening to the storm, and
the hardwired smoke alarm
still beeping.

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