Lightning

           dances around me.
Chases me beneath the wide white sky
of a festival tent (metaphor for shelter)
where a fisherman sits, mountain of stillness,
against a backdrop of thundering fear.
‘What’s the safest place?’ I beg. He doesn’t
look up from the fishing line
pressed between his weathered fingers.

I didn’t know then that just days ago,
he fished the depths of a dark pond
watching with practiced calm
as the blackening sky approached.
He calculated the distance to shore
set his sights homeward as shards
of electric fire cracked the horizon
then the glazed surface of certain
terror, a searing goodbye
to the hope of return.

Then, too, he sat silent as a dumb fish
slap-flapping its tail on the puddled planks
of his simple craft — while lightning performed
the quicksilver excision that sent him
from this world.

I met him
in the only place I could.
Not yet understanding why he refused
even a single coin of comfort.
Not yet knowing he could do nothing
but.

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