What Direction Now? Life at the intersection…

ThreeOdysseyFourteen – Barometry


Two weeks in, officially!

I’ve been reading Lois Lowry’s “The Giver” series over the past week or so, and it’s really fantastic! (in both meanings of that word—it’s both wonderful and, in the definition that many of my students use when they should instead be saying “fantastical”, it is a fantasy story) I was about to type “re-reading” because I’ve been told at least twice that “everyone” read that book when they were in third grade, and as I am in fact one member of everyone, I would have read it. I, however, was in fourth grade in 1993 when that book came out, and I don’t ever remember actually reading it. That’s not to say that I didn’t, though. Who can remember every book that they have read? (Certainly, not this guy. At times, I can’t remember any books that I’ve read..and that’s why I’m no longer in grad school…) Whichever case is true, whether I’ve read it before or not, I definitely hadn’t read any of the other four books in the series.

In the end (and this is the end, I promise), all of this exposition is to say that today’s post was inspired by a line from Messenger, the third book in the quartet (quadrilogy?). She writes: “He had seen a tree split and blackened by a lightning strike, and he knew that it could happen to a human; the flash and the burning power that would surge through you, looking for a place to enter the earth.”


It seems to storm much less in Ukraine than it does back in Indiana, though there may in fact be more rain here overall, the drippy days of spring and autumn loitering in smooth, untouched gray, sometimes stacking up three or four deep (but doesn’t that make the resurgence of the sun on that fifth day just that much sweeter, brighter). And fighting the urge to flee now into sunnier verse, I’ll say that most people here I know have never seen a tornado, and though they say they know the word “cyclone” they do not seem to really know CYCLONE in their bones, such an uttering doesn’t swirl and cower their consciousness the way it does mine—which runs to hide in the bathtub or, in case we are not at my mother’s house and all the bathrooms here have windows, the other option is the hall closet, barely big enough for my little brother and me, leaving Dad out there with the dog. I have seen the sky turn green, a seasick shade—perhaps in Indiana, it has grown sick of never seeing the sea, some sort of seahomesickness—and I envy those who only know the sky as blue or gray, pink and orange at dusk, black at night, with green covering their heads only if they’re sitting under a tree with backlit leaves. (There it goes again, trying to peek through, force it’s way in, but the clouds are right now more powerful, and I fear it has been banished outright, we’ll see. So I’ll continue:) Indiana is just as landlocked as Ukraine, perhaps moreso, the lake that is not ours by name only licking at the north border as opposed to Ukraine’s wide embrace of its shared seas in the south. But, though one of those is actually “Black”, conjuring images of bubbling cauldrons and uninviting waves, the seas here do not toss off hurricanes like dandruff the way the Atlantic does at times. I’ve never heard of a Ukrainian jet stream, though something like this must surely exist, but I know that since Indiana is stuck fast in the middle of a larger land, one wedged between two oceans, sometimes we act as the underwater rock or tree creating drag and feeling the full force of America’s roaring West-to-East whitewater stream. I’m no weatherman—I know much more about soliloquies than barometry—but at home I have seen lightning searching blindly for ways into the earth, as if itself looking for a warm place to nestle, and that one time, not stumbling upon a suitable flagpole or tree, it decided a human body was good enough as a gateway. Not that Ukraine never welcomes lightning along with its rain—it does—but not as much, it seems to me, and I am often in more danger of having soggy socks than of getting suddenly singed, sizzled, struck by more than an idea, or a well-timed walnut falling. Yes, the weather in Ukraine seems relatively mundane when compared with life situated toward the end of tornado alley…that is, of course, until winter comes…
I’m not sure why it always goes downhill, why broken cisterns never could stay filled…

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What Direction Now? Life at the intersection…

About Andrew.

Andrew Cartwright grew up in Indianapolis, IN, but has lived over the years in such places as Denver, CO; Fairfax, VA; and Rivne, Ukraine. He is a former nonfiction editor for both Indiana Review and phoebe; he has also worked for the intersectional feminist journal, So To Speak, and the national literary magazine, Electric Literature. His work has appeared in The Normal School Online, Copper Nickel, Esquire Ukraine, Literary Hub, and Word Riot.

For more information about me and links to other writing, visit my author page at cartwriter.com





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