Issue 43.1 Summer/Fall 2022

Dorothy’s Twister Didn’t Stop in Munchkinland

Tornado picture

It headed out from Oz and colorized the sepia along

the unmarked Kansas county roads, then headed

west against prevailing winds, snapping wires

on the noontime streets, town to town to town.


As it reached my California city, I sat with Mom

and Dad who studied paint chips from the Sherwin-

Williams Book of Whites. There were ecrus, salts

and eggshells. They wondered which, and didn’t


raise their voices. Then the sky went black, the howl

of an angry afternoon. Thundered windows broke.

Newspapers, palm fronds and cellophane

gyred round the funnel. Whole houses gusted up


then fell to wreckage. Later, we unlocked

the door. Outside: a blooming bird of paradise.

A street-tree polka-dotted pomegranate-red. Bees,

once striped black-and-white, now gemstones.


The Governor declared a public holiday. School

was cancelled. It took time adjusting to the glare.

Vivid days, vermillion days, and azure nights

followed all that week and into many years.


It’s all true: oranges, purples, carnadines arranged

into bouquets and yellows sloping steeply

from the mountain to the kelpish browns of tide.

We never said, but we were thankful for the storm.


That was my century. If it’s ended, if my child

can’t remember color, if the city’s ashen, if the skin’s

gunmetalled right into its broken fingernails

then we must recite: Turquoise. Goldenrod. Citrine. Rose.



Photo by Nikolas Noonan