Belated Bishop Birthday poem

Electrical Storm

Dawn an unsympathetic yellow.
Cra-aack! – dry and light.
The house was really struck.
Crack! A tinny sound, like a dropped tumbler.
Tobias jumped in the window, got in bed -
silent, his eyes bleached white, his fur on end.
Personal and spiteful as a neighbor’s child,
thunder began to bang and bump the roof.
One pink flash;
then hail, the biggest size of artificial pearls.
Dead-white, wax-white, cold -
diplomats’ wives’ favors
from an old moon party -
they lay in melting windrows
on the red ground until well after sunrise.
We got up to find the wiring fused,
no lights, a smell of saltpetre,
and the telephone dead.

The cat stayed in the warm sheets.
The Lent trees had shed all their petals:
wet, stuck, purple, among the dead-eye pearls.


Elizabeth Bishop
from The Complete Poems 1927-1979

Other Bishop poems posted @ Against Oblivion: "Filling Station"