The Difference

Amorak Huey

“The difference between the right word

& the almost right word is the difference

between the lightning & the lightning bug.”

Mark Twain

 

According to wire reports –

Hawkes Point, south coast of Australia –

man & woman survive lightning strike while nightsurfing.

 

The wire won’t tell you (for such is the nature

of wires, omitting that very part of a story

which binds it to us)                they were waiting

 

for a particular wave – a crazy impulsive

wall of water whose whims might carry them to Oz

or Ontario.                  Or that as they straddled

 

slick boards side by side this man grabbed this woman’s hand –

opened his mouth to ask something important.

She immediately thought someone else’s name

 

& stared skyward, seeking divine interruption –

& so had a perfect view of thinsliced white light

unzipping the sky all the way down to where

 

their fingers laced together

      at the fractured surface of the sea.

 

Also at that moment in Livonia, Michigan,

another man started his backswing on the 18th fairway –

long iron & putt from the best round

 

of his middle-management life

until a stiletto charge

from the only cloud in the hemisphere

screamed onto the sweet spot on the open face of his club.

 

By the time a reporter from the Observer & Eccentric

visited his hospital room, the man was recovered

enough to observe he guessed it wasn’t true,

 

 

 

 

that bit about even God not being able to hit a 2-iron.

His wife wrapped her fingers in his & cautioned him not to joke,

she knew it sounded weird

        but at the instant her husband was hit

 

she felt a sting that started in her palms & seared

through her body, left her limp, liquid.            She omits

the part of the story that might make us think

 

differently of her: at that shocking moment

she was in bed with her lover,

who knows

a thing or two about electricity, who’s lit

 

enough darkened rooms to know the difference

between goddammit & goddamn:

sometimes lightning –

sometimes bug.