Tornado Warning, OH by Autumn Stiles

Photo by Johannes Plenio on Unsplash

They were wildly frequent first semester, freshman year and we lived in the basement

of Shorney, which sat on a hill

So when the siren howled, we stayed in our dorm, Thea and I

And all our new friends would descend to harbor, rather than endure the cramped and chattering hall

Roger and Mimi and Gavin and Maggie – Vince and Taylor, too.

All our warm, young bodies in that trinket of a room

With the fairy bulbs glowing against that weird light that precedes a tornado: dark and plush

but with streaks of silver and lemon skimming the clouds

And the air had that peculiar smell – charged – electric –

And the eerie wail of the sirens —

It was all very sexy in it’s strange way, and we were so young, figuring out our bodies

And everyone had crushes on everyone

So it was very animal, being in that space, with the air all electric and the tang of the earth

and the sound of those trees rushing green in the valley below

And we would sit – nearly touching – braced for a thing that wouldn’t come.

We were charged. Everything was.

It was an excuse to be close and it felt dangerous and secret like we were all in on something together

and it didn’t matter that the world was ending because we were young and warm and nearly touching.

As our earth continues to tire, tornadoes may increase.

More wet. More heat. More frenzy. More spin.

What else will be thrown together as this more-ness happens?

What other bodies, what other forms of light?

And who will come to harbor? Who will be near?


Autumn Stiles is a Brooklyn-based writer & editor. A former employee of British auction house Christie’s in NYC, she holds an MSc in Literature and Modernity from The University of Edinburgh, & a BA in English & American Literature from Denison University.