During the Tornado, I’m Thinking of Stars


They’re calling them sisters, funnels grafted
to the same spine of rotating air, but I know
they’re lovers by how my jet turns wet

and reckless between squalls, by how the squalls
are raptured from the same nexus of desire.
But I’m thinking of your hands on my body,

not the storm. I’m thinking of your back stained
with the sun’s reconnaissance after a day
of splitting wood, not unstable air pressed

to the craft’s fuselage. On our way to the airport,
cottonwoods throng across asphalt, their catkins
clinging to each tire’s underbelly, while broken

power lines stretch, lithe and sinuous, in slicks
of rain. Haven’t we all known darkness like this?
The kind that requires a wind-up radio and ends

with the only clear station lilting news of crushed
silos and missing children? The kind the plane
taking me away from you tries to rise through

but, overcome, turns instead to a gale’s handfast
ceremony—luggage breaching in the cargo
hold, a woman’s head quick and loose against

the plane’s thermoplastic wall? As my plane,
not felled but wounded, hunts for any runway
threshold that will have it, I’m thinking of last

summer’s solstice, about the man who coaxed us
toward his telescope, the one promising
Saturn’s curves swathed in mist, rings enticing

a brusque liaison with Mars. Yet, as he thumbed
the focusing knob and urged my head toward
the eyepiece, Libra’s quadrangle hid away

in unconsummated trespass; Saturn, cruel beauty,
gave her body to the dark. As I feared the forces
that begin and end our bond to everything,

you only kissed me like a tempest plunges itself
into the border of a larger vortex before the surge
begins. You wouldn’t stop kissing me.

Sara Henning is the author of A Sweeter Water (Lavender Ink, 2013), as well as two chapbooks, Garden Effigies (Dancing Girl Press, forthcoming) and To Speak of Dahlias (Finishing Line Press, 2012). Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in such journals as Connotation Press, Crab Orchard Review, Greensboro Review, and RHINO, and anthologies such as Women Write Resistance: Poets Resist Gender Violence (2013). She holds an MFA from George Mason University, and she is currently a doctoral student in English and Creative Writing at the University of South Dakota, where she serves as Assistant Managing Editor for the South Dakota Review.