Literature 3-5-2007

What Light: This Week’s Poem: Michelle Storm

"What Light: This Week's Poem," sponsored by Magers and Quinn, brings you a poem every week by a Minnesota poet, selected by a panel of writers and publishers. Look for our new anthology at Magers and Quinn soon—it’s at the printer’s now!

Michelle Storm

Empty Soccer Fields at Night

Full moon is God’s eye, watchful Shekinah
pierces, presses a white-hot nickel into my forehead.
Unrelenting, She brands a circle there again and again
between my eyes the heavy coin burrows, disappears.

Parked, idling beside a pond, I’m transfixed by its nuclear glow.
Leaden things pass beneath. Lead couldn’t move like that.

The clouds are stop-motion tornadoes.

Does the airplane attack the cloud wraith or
the wraith swallow the steel bird whole?
The disconnect is so great, at hundreds of miles per hour,
        there is no movement.

Slender stadium lights tower: dark, silent keepers of lunar fields.
A locked concession stand huddles.

Clouds are most obvious in darkness, pregnant creatures
dragging their own lace-weighted wedding train, hand-stitched
with stars that prick and tear, delicate razors.
The fabric cannot defend itself, so bead heavy: infinite,
miniscule steel weights drug towards some invisible ceremony.

Who knows if day exists?

The moonlit lady pushes on, begrudging, in mindless patterns,
a vaporous, slow motion sky-river: All the attendant masses merge.

One mile north, there are two lives, weighted in their little beds.
Once home, I will pet their still, damp heads and finger strings
        of matted hair and breathe their breath.

The stadium lights wait this way and that, back to back, confused.
How to crane and twist their necks?

The five lamps at each head are seed pods, bowing.
These creatures are demure, they don’t dare lift their eyes.
They’re ashamed, at such height, tentative.


The most isolated, peaceful place I found to write a poem one night happened to be less than a mile from my home. I am positively connected to my community, but on this particular night, I was struck by an alien, ominous feeling. In the daytime, youth activity at the soccer fields and adjacent sports center often begins at 6 a.m. and continues, bustling, until 10 at night. After closing time: a frozen, barren landscape. Where had all the movement gone? I think I was channeling Amy Lowell and David Lynch when I wrote this portent.

Right now, I’m reading On Beauty by Zadie Smith; the last poem I read that really stayed with me is “Shirt,” by Charles Simic.


Michelle Storm is a playwright and grade school teacher in Woodbury, MN, where she lives with her husband and two young children. She was born in Honolulu, HI, but spent most of her childhood near the bluffs of the Mississippi in Red Wing, MN. As a child, she also lived near San Francisco, and Bremerhavn, Germany. She holds a B.A. in theater and English from Hamline University, where she received the George H. Bridgeman Poetry Prize. Most recently, she wrote and produced The Scarlet Lady at Bryant Lake Bowl Theater. Currently, Ms. Storm is writing a play about the life and work of Minnesota artist Wanda Gag.