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Tornado Warning

by Dawn Sands

So this is how it ends, 

grey sea morphing into grey sky, horizon 

a thin balance beam today, white ice sun

rays skirting behind clouds & there is the

tornado, does anybody know what it is? 

We’ll be standing on greyscale pebbles 

bunched together, a row of fading trainers drained

of light. I think your face will be too gaunt to

laugh or otherwise you would, the irony of it,

really, because at the hospital they scooped you

into tubes and tapped out your life 

on a screen, moulded your soul back together

until you were well & now there is 

this. What actually is it, though? It’s all 

I can think and if I asked myself as a six-year-old

she would know, or she’d believe she knew —

God, at least it is me and not her, or she’d be frozen

skeletal to the bed whispering 

her final confessions into the night & hoping

the wind is strong enough to carry her 

to heaven. She thought in heaven they slept

in purple sleeping bags. Anyway, 

now I see it, column-vortex choreography 

spinning and spouting between sky and sea like a

Grecian pillar holding up the heavens. I remember you

telling me what a frieze was aged six, 

and it is us and it is Pompeii and it is silent suspension

& probably I should be worried about 

pyroclastic flow but I am giddy 

and I think if we were filming this 

we’d laugh years later. 

I suppose we still could. It is only 

a warning. The shape of it 

is always something that has pulled the soles

from my feet. Let us stand here, in a line, 

with no tornado, so that perhaps when the day comes

this is the frieze we will be locked in, & please sit

me down and tell me how it functions 

before the day it kills us in our sleep.

lament from a foreign shore 


Dawn Sands (she/her) is a 17-year-old writer currently focusing on poetry, but she has also written a novel and is working on a weird novella that spans 7000 years and several instances of humans finding beauty wherever they can. She was a Top 15 winner of the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award 2023, and you can find her on Instagram @dawnllsbooks.


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