Zap jonathan-bowers-BqKdvJ8a5TI-unsplash


Poet: 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.