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I love words. I love the way they taste on my tongue. And I love discovering a tasty new word that I’d never heard before. So when National Geographic showed an illustration of a fulgurite, I couldn’t resist imagining a world around that word.

First published in The NeWest Review, February/March 1994, Volume 19, Number 3

The Fulgurite


“It was a lousy, brooding sort of day. The whole week had been like that. Blue-hot afternoons followed uncertain mornings, the sun baking patchwork fields of rape seed and hay. Then in the distance, thunder. It came from the west over the rim of Rocky Mountains and moved quickly to the city limits, bringing lightning forks and sheets for supper. Everywhere, children stood with their noses pressed against patio doors watching. I stood at the sliding glass door facing west, a child at each side, counting the storm. “One Mississippi, two Mississippi, three Mississippi, four Missis – ” BANG. “That means the storm is four miles away,” I said. The sky was and dark I could see our reflections in the glass even though it was only six thirty. Both girls stood wide-eyed at the power and closeness of the storm. Patricia was silent as I counted off the distance. Jordana mouthed the words. This felt better. Standing together in our new house still redolent with fresh paint and plaster and the unmistakable aroma of new carpet, I was conferring to my daughters a sacred bit of childhood knowledge; the science of measuring storms in school-yard seconds.”
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