It was a hot day thrown suddenly cool
By that hard rain, poured off the slate roof barn
When the boy was hit by lightning.
Standing safe, he thought, in the large doorway,
Eaves above him tapping,
Farm trucks shining up.
Big for his age, father’s overalls, watching things,
Whole complexion tan like pure maple syrup
The stuff he gathered with his grandfather and horses.
His old man and older brothers stoke and boil the wood fire,
Spend those long nights in the sugar-house.
The way the light spills out of the small steamy windows
All over snow, dreamy in the valley.
Well a mean bolt came down from the sky to end that,
A splitting axe flying.
Water dripping smooth from the roof edge
Splashes onto his boots and cuffs,
Hayseed still itching his back,
Cows poking behind him in their stalls.
Need a light already it’s getting so dark, he thought —
Struck him from the forehead straight down
Cracked him open like nothing should be.
The family dog lay nearby on a broken bale
Like he has for 15 Julys,
Large head on his paws tilted and watching
Rain burning the ground.
photo © bob arnold"Real Life" from Where Rivers Meet by Bob Arnold (Mad River Press, 1990)