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Heat Lightning in a Strange Land
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Heat Lightning in a Strange Land

        One of childhood's mysteries, those ferns that close    with the sweep of a hand. I don't see themin my new country, north of I-12

        where I'm shipwrecked—high and dry, an outsider    drifting from streets that tell my story ofinsurance rates and this last evacuation north

        of Lake Pontchartrain to a New South.    New construction—absurdly fauxFrench country style on parcels

        of a dairy farm. Red foxes at dawn are new    to me and my sons, my sons exploringthe blacktop after dark, burning

        their bare feet and wasting our hurricane    batteries in flashlights. There's hardly cause,anymore, for its official use, so I crank

        the emergency radio that we might have the blues    with our fireflies, with flashlight doubloonsthat shine at our feet. Heat lightning

        travels sideways while we shoot baskets    in the driveway. The mosquito truckpasses three times in a halo of spray.

        We hold our breath and run, upending    leggy tadpoles held captive in go-cups.Nothing can hurt us out here. [End Page 217]

Alison Pelegrin

Alison Pelegrin is the author of three poetry collections, most recently Hurricane Party and Big Muddy River of Stars. She is the recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment of the Arts and the Louisiana Division of the Arts, and her poems have appeared in Poetry, Ploughshares, and New England Review. She teaches English at Southeastern Louisiana University.