NOR 4 #15: Anderson Inside the Hurricane

By Stefi Weisburd
Featured Image: By Alphonse Legros

The wind has come to remind us of our wings — Mississippi artist Walter Anderson, who tied himself to trees in order to experience hurricanes

Lashed to the mast, ears thrashed
by sirens in the eyewall, Anderson
is the squall’s canvas, ravaged
by wind that wants to strip
his skin from skull
and howl.

Only yesterday he sank
to hands and knees
to understand the guano of green heron, to paint
the violet frog. Lying by a quiet
lagoon, inking a white-throated
sparrow, he saw cadmium and red madder happily
flare in foliage. In the slash pines of Horn Island
where imagination fills the space between trees, art
defers the evil moment. Contour of bark
or butterfly is ballast; it calms the

 

gale within him, bulrush pool, always a balm until
a storm makes land.
Then it froths and spits, rain
needles him, ankles deep in the surge.
How will he paint the sting
of maddened sand, the batter of root
torn from loam, blue strafed from
sky? Titanium whitecaps throttle
the mangrove beach. All around him, palms
flash and flinch like broken
umbrellas in brash light, the shed
in shivers under

the blotted sun.
A locomotive in his ear, wind
wrenches his breath from
its palate, whips
him beyond himself, out
of his sleeve of pain, sopping

and so close, so
close to capsizing . . .
Something in the cyclone
cries out.

Something wheels

and sings.


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