“The Christmas Tempest, 1999” by Susan Fox

The Christmas Tempest, 1999

Something’s wrong.

No sound or wrench of air,

but sleep’s been flushed from my veins

and I pace the study wondering why.

Moon so bright the sky looks placid,

except that it flicks like a kid’s homemade cartoon:

clouds faster than jet trails strobe the light.

The trees are thrashing – poplars in whiplash,

pines writhing and resisting,

only the oaks too heavy to react.

Across the fields,

beyond the dark chateau,

an eighty-five-foot fir snaps halfway down,

its top blown away before I can watch it go,

the wounded trunk still forced to bow and jig.

Picturesque, from my safe window –

pale clouds whirling past a full moon,

trees dancing.

Beyond this sheltered home a continent of forests

shatters and falls, littering the world.


(This poem appears in Susan’s most recent book, Border House.)


Susan Fox’s poems have appeared in dozens of literary and popular journals, from Poetry and The Paris Review and Chelsea to The New York Times. She was born in Ohio and has lived in New York, Rome, and Paris. Joel Mandelbaum’s opera to her original libretto on a hidden child in World War II premiered semi-professionally in New York, and she has also collaborated on several projects with painter Richard Ryan. Fox lives in a village in Normandy called Secret Source.

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