by Allison Adelle Hedge Coke


Black Blizzard—hundreds of thousands of years to create the topsoil. Red from Oklahoma, Texas grey, brown Nebraska. The animals sensed it coming before the people. Chickens went to the coop and stayed there. The animals ran unsensibly, unreasonably. Clouds of dust made human figures in the wind. Could be an hour, or minutes to arrive. People fastened wires to the house to follow back   —you could be blown away—Visibility no more than a few feet. Massive dusters. Some for days—during school hours—ten years of this. Silt on everything. Families daily digging out. Every surface in the house coated. Dust in food before it could be eaten, still eaten, field dirt with the food. Covering windows and doors with cloth, sheets, paste—air thickened, dimmed. Cloth to face felt awful

—suffocating—dust, pneumonia took children. Radiation dry heat transfer, Kansas mercury 121. Insects seeking moisture, shade, centipedes, had to shake out shoes, sheets. Swarms—grasshoppers, gophers, birds gone from the dust, nothing to eat them­—Jackrabbits multiplying, badgers, coyotes gone. 10,000 took part in a rabbit drive. 35,000 jacks caught in a pen. They clubbed them to kill them, men killing them, rabbits screaming, while static electricity, from friction, took lives, sparked everywhere. Plain sand charged metal, blue flames, ball lightning, same safety wires lined to find houses—cars charged up with static, knocked people out, livestock ran in circles, lungs filled with dust—dead—only water 100 feet below, Sears & Roebuck sold windmill kits to fix up. Dad, ten. People ate tumbleweeds, then.