“The Tornado Collects the Animals”: a Rumpus Original Poem by Catherine Pierce

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The Tornado Collects the Animals

The tornado likes animals because
they pay attention. The tornado
sees the dogs howling up
from rippling yards, the cows huddled
mutely against one another,
a sparrow pulsing its wings hard
to stay stationary. The animals
stare and quake. The animals
cower, or toss menacing growls
into the thick air. The tornado knows
the animals look up and think o marvel,
o master, o strong one.

Where are their people?
They have left their pets to fend the wind
alone. They are doing laundry,
buying liquor, sitting at desks, bowling.
A few are already bunkered
in bathtubs or basements,
as if safety is a human entitlement.

The tornado begins
gathering the animals, one by one,
tenderly—a squirrel, a brown dog,
a shuddering armadillo.
The tornado will wrap them tight.
It will make sure the poor things
know what it is to be held.

-Catherine Pierce

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