You return home to the house you grew up in, to your parents’ house, having been away a long time, longer than you meant to be, and you’re sorry about that.
Even though you don’t knock, you can recall what it was like to go in without thinking about knocking. All the same, the screen slaps shut
and the dogs rush the door, and your father calls for them to quiet down. The two of you talk the way you always do, standing in the kitchen. You notice how thin he’s gotten.
Upstairs in the closet, in the footlocker, the pressboard box tucked against the back wall, there’s still the reservist’s uniform, also the weather radio, the handgun,
and the rolled up sheaf of bills, just in case— all the neatly packed unspoken things that a boy turns over in his hands in the half-light
of a bedroom when nobody’s home, the things he knows by weight and smell. Outside, an October storm is coming across the lake. The rain line is advancing,
stippling the water and creating a new nearer horizon. You can only see its progress when you close your eyes for a while; then, when you open them, you can tell
that it has moved, that it is, in fact, getting closer. Eventually, you won’t really be able to distinguish the island. You might only make out the gray shape of it
in all the mounting gray, and the degree to which the standing shadows of the trees list to one side will tell you how bad it’s going to be when it arrives. [End Page 17]
Somewhere down the shore a rope slaps against its flagpole like a warning bell. So you close your eyes again and count to ten, then twenty, and when you open them
the last touches of blue and white have gone out of the sky. The rain line is closer now, and although it’s getting darker, the storm won’t hold off until night, not as you’d hoped.
It will be here soon; you know this, because the wet wind is holding you by the back of the neck, telling you it’s time to light the oil lamps inside the dimming, familiar house. [End Page 18]
Cody Heartz grew up in New Hampshire. Currently, he lives in New South Wales, Australia, with his wife and their dog. “Nor’easter” is his first published poem. He’d like to thank his family, friends, and mentors for their support.