After Hurricane Ruth, Brother Jim Explains to Little Rubin How to Make Good Use of a Storm

by Tara Bray

The best time to write a sermon’s before
a storm–the trees bowed over, full
and quivering with holy fever, all
the birds skittering mad with fear.

God’s words will toss inside your head like seedlings
helpless in the wind until you’ve found
a way to lift them up and write them down
as prophecy so others will crave the king

that touched you in the storm and made you burn.
This life will come down hard on you and knock
you to your knees. The Lord will smile and walk
away. Left to mend yourself, you’ll learn

the broken body is your sermon, crying
over the town like rain. Your eyes must bear
the darkness of the clouds. Fix your stare
like trees rooted in the soil, rising

in spite of wicked gusts. Let the news
sting the listener’s ear like shocks of hail,
your body’s fury making sinners pale
to pure repentance as your torso moves

like a dreaded fit of wind across God’s stage.
Lift your hands and jerk them low. Ease
out the hurt you cage inside, squeeze
your fists to show how close love is to rage.

Tara Bray‘s work has been published or is forthcoming in The Southern Review, Puerto del Sol, Atlanta Review, The Midwest Quarterly, Many Mountains Moving, Green Mountains Review and Crab Orchard Review. She is in her final year at the MFA program at the University of Arkansas where she holds the Walton Fellowship in Creative Writing.

Poem from Sacred Dirt