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by Linda Jeannette Ward

Each blast of wind that heralds the force of Hurricane Isabel sends a shudder beneath my grip on the steering wheel . . . pine needles and leaves ebb and crash like waves over the road and into the deluge of rain across my windshield, setting off the cats to yowl with renewed vigor. Straddling the center line to avoid flying branches, I relax my stiff fingers, as Norfolk's modest skyscrapers come into view, stalwart along the white-capped Elizabeth River . . . just a few blocks now and the evacuation from our swampside home to our son's brick apartment will be over . . .

along his street
the horizontal reach
of a young poplar

Cats, computers and clothes up two flights of stairs and we finally settle in to coffee and a distracting video . . .

explosive crack—
the TV screen

Another poplar, this one too ancient to bend, crashes from across the street. Felled by a gust of wind, it snaps a power line that dangles and arcs just a few feet off the balcony . . .

roar of the storm—
screams of firefighters
from the fire escape

The live electrical wire is whipping and sparking over a gas main. We're ordered to evacuate, this time without preparation and this time into the full rage of the storm. Our son calls an elderly neighbor and he agrees to take us in . . . we wade through ankle-deep streams rushing over the street and trust ourselves to the kindness of this stranger . . .

of the Holocaust
offering us refuge
during the hurricane
he asks to raise the windows

Linda Jeanette Ward's collection, delicate dance of wings, received the Haiku Society of America's 2003 Merit Book Award for Best Book of Haibun. Her haiku and tanka have won awards and honorable mentions from several competitions during the past two years and have been widely anthologized.

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