Anteroom “I don’t want to alarm you, but . . . . ” Don’t but strikes the eardrum first. And then that ellipsis trailing its wake of silence. What? what? Tonight you have been detained in the holding tank of gel and electrodes where a stylus monitors your quaking. Again you are made to repeat your name. In the hush and babble of the ER the whitecoats hover and confer. Lucky you! Not a single positive this time. You may go home to that other life with its soothing clatter, you’ve rehearsed the required emotions. Once again you have passed the test for the wrong disaster. White Heat Last Friday a man was struck by lightning. He lives to tell it: “My friends heard it strike, saw smoke rising from my body. My shoes flew off!” In the front page photo he looks abashed. Heat gathers drop by drop till the cloud cannot contain it. Lightning sizzles across in a burst of ozone and the whole sky blanches. I love the wild brilliance that will not last. My grandma was afraid of lightning: “If you feel a storm coming, cover your head and pray.” Her house in the old country had a roof of straw. I don’t believe in the god of lightning anymore. My house is stucco and wood. I’m afraid of safety. When the lights go out I’m awake at the window, watching that live wire ignite the fire of water and air that can turn us to ash.