Ghost ships sail the horizon 
as the sun sets in to sleep.
We’re here on tradition 
watching snapped-spine lightning 
scratch words in another language
along the Atlantic.
Bellies full of mussels and clams 
we sip chardonnay, remember Shirley
the one who shaped us—
her sailors to the sea.
She’s where storm 
speak is understood.

Some nights thunder is her voice—
made of syllables of light—
but her words are 
blurred by raindrops.

We seek our own 
messages from her sky— 
Non è bella la tempesta?— 
and wish we spoke the language.    

Michelle Tooker is a marketing writer and avid traveler based in Philadelphia. Through poetry, she explores issues of intimacy, nostalgia and culture. Her work has appeared in Gutter Eloquence, Farmhouse Magazine, Gargoyle Literary Magazine and others. She is currently working on an M.A. in Creative Writing at Arcadia University.

"Storm Speak" is about the link between reality, memory and what's beyond life and behind nature. It's also about trying to find this connection whether it’s real or imagined.

The poem is inspired by my grandmother, the late Shirley Harter, and her love of Long Beach Island, NJ. Every Mother’s Day my family visits LBI in her honor. During our 2009 trip, we watched a lightning storm over the ocean, which got me thinking about the connections between human life and nature.



Copyright 2009