Tornadoes came to Alabama

My family was okay
but TVA shut the nuclear plant down.
The tsunami in Japan was too recent
to take chances with such things.
The region will be out of power for five to ten days.

I looked up their local news online
it seemed like the damage was on the North side of town.
I worried a little, anyways.
My parents were both at work that day.

No phone towers connected us,
even the land line didn’t work.

I finally thought to call my sister’s fiancé
to make sure they were alive.
He lives far away.
They are constantly updating one another.
If she could call anyone it would be him.

She finally called me the weekend after the storms,
in Atlanta coaching volleyball
and glad to have service and power again.
Being without the internet was hard.

She tells everyone that I am
the most independent person she knows.
There are undertones:
I left the place we grew up, she chose to stay.

“Is it not good enough for me?”
No, the place is not,
but that doesn’t mean that they are not.
A distinction.

We all stay in touch, in our own ways:
Mom and I talk on the phone.
I call her when I am going on walks.
Dad and I stay connected through Flickr
and short emails.

I have a website for photos and essays.
The posts give them a sense of our life here,
our climbing trips and projects and books.
We often jump in
right to the heart of the conversation.

When the tornadoes came
and the cords connecting all of us
went away temporarily
my heart was tender.

The knowledge that we couldn’t connect
anytime we felt like it:
that knowledge was visceral.
A loss that it was hard to anticipate
until it happened.

Like New Yorkers who need to know
that anything and everything is happening nearby,
even on nights they have take out and stay in,
I am able to live far from my family.

Any screen will connect us, any time.