Zap (Winner)

Maura High

was a shamble of a man:
his hair a wild upstart frizz, and his eyes
evasive. He had been struck
twice by lightning, and maybe
that was why he sat
panting and white-faced
under a tree and waited
while the rest of us kept working,
chopping and dragging brush
into piles for burning.
He liked the nickname, Zap,
his claim to fame,
his story—he’d survived,
he’d met, and dodged, his maker,
500 megajoules of god
coursing down his body
into earth. But I don’t think
that was what he was feeling,
right then, in the shade.
The summer sorts us:
who can and can’t
work all day in the field and
and not be heat-struck, who
does and does not thrill
at the late-day summer storms
with all their drama
and chill downdrafts, the first
prickle of rain.
He knew lightning
is only looking
for the earth, and doesn’t care
how it gets there or what
burns up, as long as it hits ground:
zig-zag and split: to this
particle, to that, down
cloud, tree, cliff, out of the blue,
a woman struck
dead on a bald mountain, a man
knocked down in a brush-infested field. ​

Maura High was born in Wales and now lives and works and votes in North Carolina. Her poems appear in various anthologies and print and online magazines, including The Phare. Her chapbook, The Garden of Persuasions, was published by Jacar Press.