There’s Gonna Be Weather

Brett Elizabeth Jenkins

He says it in the morning to ready himself
for what happens. He says it as he lights

his cigarette on the back porch, one leg
draped bone-still over the other. He thinks weather

as he crosses the long bridge in his car, and feels
it sway almost imperceptibly beneath him. He says

There’s gonna be weather instead of I have
a dead wife
. He thinks it when he wants

to yell Go to your room. His knees, his bones, his arms,
his whole body aches, and that’s how he knows.

He looks to the clouds when they pool together and darken.
Still on the back porch, watches the tops of the trees

as small things wiggle there, waiting for whatever
birds call to when weather’s on its way.


I awake the first daughter, the first mother. I am
nobody’s, I belong to the man behind the tree

picking yellow flowers. We don’t have a word
for flowers yet. We don’t have a word for tree.

I don’t know I am a daughter or a mother
only know this once two warring tribes come

headlong from my body. We invent a word
for pain. I dream the word murder before

it happens. This is what it looks like: at daybreak,
two elephants bathe each other at the mouth

of the river. They cascade water until the sun goes
down, and one elephant sinks deep into the sand

until he can no longer be seen. The lone elephant
wails and splashes, looking for the missing

elephant until again it’s daybreak.

BRETT ELIZABETH JENKINS lives and writes in St. Paul. Look for her work in Beloit Poetry Journal, PANK, Potomac Review, Paper Darts, Revolver, and elsewhere.