Today’s poem is “One Night the Wind Got Wild, Then Wilder And,” by Betsy Sholl, who was Maine’s third poet laureate. She has published nine books of poetry, most recently House of Sparrows, New & Selected Poems (University of Wisconsin Press 2019). She lives in Portland, Maine, and teaches in the MFA Program of Vermont College.
She writes “When our son was quite young the house next door to us in Boston burned down. A year later we were living in the Appalachian Mountains along a river and went through what was the worst flood in a hundred years. We ended up in a double-wide trailer on a dairy farm, which was stunningly beautiful and fairy-tale idyllic. The windstorm was huge and thrilling and we did wake our children to dance with us in it. Because trailer dwelling has such a negative connotation, I was especially happy to get one in this poem.”
One Night the Wind Got Wild, Then Wilder, And
by Betsy Sholl
what were we thinking? A school night,
our whole yard getting tossed, as if the wind had a warrant.
But something to see: the full moon sailing through clouds,
the biggest wind we’d ever known.
Young as you were, you’d been through fire and flood,
then this cornfield and our new tin house,
a fairy-tale world of cows and bluebirds, unlocked doors,
wide fields surrounded by hills.
So we crooned, Wake up, to your sleep-soft face—
Do you remember?
That wind we could spread our arms and practically ride.
We didn’t want you to think: wolf licking its lips,
puffing at the roof tiles, the world howling down the chimney,
saying what fodder we were.
You stood in the doorway rubbing your eyes as old rags flapped up
and the plastic on the woodpile ripped free.
Slowly you grinned and began to twirl with us
in the moonstruck stubble.
Our nighclothes belled in the wind. Fistfuls, armfuls—
what straw to hurl.
My sleepy darling, we wanted to give you a different tale,
milkweed wands and a world happy to huff itself up.
As close as we’ll ever get to flight—
those lawn chairs clattering down the road, the cow gate groaning,
and the straps that held our trailer down
twanging like an eerie guitar.
Poem Copyright © 2019 by Betsy Sholl. Reprinted from House of Sparrows, New and Selected Poems (University of Wisconsin Press, 2019) by permission of Betsy Sholl.