The Storm

by Anna Hempstead Branch
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The wind was a crowd,
Wet birds were the skies,
I marched laughing aloud
With the storm in my eyes.

Part beast and part bird,
A waif of the plain,
My laughter was heard
With the voice of the rain.

I thought I remembered
A night long ago
When our hoofs beat the sod
And we rushed to and fro,

Our flanks steaming hot,
Rain-driven and warm!
I had almost forgot
Till I ran with the storm.

I thought I remembered
Black roads to a star,
When the wind in our pinions
Beat us up and afar.

How shrill were our cries,
As we flew from the plain!
Oh that road to the skies,
Beaten up by the rain!

The flails of the storm
Beat my soul from its mesh.
It paled like a mist,
Driven out of the flesh.

It flew through the night
To my mother’s warm hand,
But I— I was abroad
With the wind and the sand.

Unhuman and strange,
‘Twixt the rain and the stone,
I must flutter and range
Through the dark all alone!

The darkness,
The wetness,
The sleekness,
The fatness
Of shapes in the tempest
Submerged, with no name,
As with laughter and shout

And a clapping of hands
I danced in and out
Or clove in the sands.
As straight as the lightning
I struck and I came —
The storm was the thunder,
And I was the flame.

It was thus that I ran
To the House on the Hill,
When the voice of love
Bade the tempest be still.

Then I gathered me back
From the rain and the sand
To the soul held so close
In my mother’s warm hand.