The Wind Chaser: A Cautionary Tale by Amy Axby / by Elisabeth Cooper

The Wind Chaser:  A Cautionary Tale. 

29 November ‘46. Page 210. The Storm Riders Almanac. 

My great-grandfather 

spun a good yarn. 

He played a good game.  

And I’m not kidding you 

when I say 

he was ten feet tall, 

and he could do anything. 

The ragged scar on his face 

still smelled like trouble unfurled 

for the lightning that struck him 

as a young man 

was not of this world. 

It took his eye, and 

it took his leg. 

It can happen that way

when men 

refuse the prophets and 

strike at the sun. 

One day a storm blew in,

one brutal beast of a storm,

an old one, and it had my 

great-grandfather in its sights. 

But he perceived no sign of its coming,

the great white whale of the sky.  

“Live by the storm,

die by the storm,” 

he always said, 

but he still had to go 

stand in the yard that day,

that peg leg pirate,

when everyone else with a lick of sense 

was snuggled right down 

in their basements. 

He still had to go after it. 

He still had to go and shake his stick 

at rotations in the clouds. 

It circled him, that swirling monster,

and danced away again,

and running from my hiding place 

I called out to him,

“Grandfather! Come back!”

But he could not hear me, 

or he would not hear me,

over the smell of musk 

in the air and 

a water spout far away in the distance 

He hobbled after it,

wiry and mean and cussing a blue streak,

and I swear he grew as he ran-limped across the lawn,

his cane raised to the Leviathan,

an old man’s harpoon. 

The neighbors came out 

like a wave in his wake.  

Porches filled all down the street 

with people restless and tired of the dark.

Emboldened by his creaking war cries

and whipped by the lashing rain,

they too pointed to heaven

with their fingers,

drawing tiny storms in the air. 

“He always was the meanest man 

in the county,”

they said, nodding to one another,

with not one ounce of grace in their hearts 

for an old man who could still 

outrun the wind. 

And then,

while we watched,

it swallowed him up,

just like that. 

The dark jaws of that storm 

closed around him 

and took him from us forever. 

We could hear him as it lifted him off the ground 

Shouting like a foghorn 

with his last breath, 

in his mind, 

a conqueror, even in death. 

It’s been six years now, but 

I think I’ll see him again, I do. 

I prayed as he ran after that thing so fast

that he would surrender even at the last

and repent of laughing in the face of God. 

I wasn’t sure until today, 

but then I knew for certain

when a wooden leg 

fell on the ground in front of me,

right out of the curtain 

of the sky.