Tornado Alley: McClean, West Texas, 2006

Mikayla blazes brighter than sun with eyes of stars and hair of burning comets. Her galaxy yawns a wide welcome inside this cyclone-howling F5-er. I reach for her. Boots stomp against truck-bed metal, and she just wants to fly fly fly. Balanced on knees, I wait for an answer, heart thumping hard hard hard. Mikayla’s supernova smile gives nothing away. She pulses with howling screams, and mouths: I know there is a better world. My scorched fingertips graze a fiery outline, whispering through her smoky cloud. These fierce McClean winds will blow apart our constellations, and she will leave for her better world. Holding Mikayla is like fisting moonbeams—brilliance runs like water between closed fingers. In its wake, only the lunar-dusted shine of Mikayla remains inside my empty wet palms.

Meredith Doench writes and teaches in Dayton, Ohio. She has published in literary journals such as Hayden’s Ferry ReviewWomen’s Studies Quarterly, and Gertrude, among others. She is also one of the fiction editors of the literary journal Camera Obscura: Journal of Literature and Photography.