Reader Bernadette van Duyvendyk sends this touching poem, inspired by the account of the Gatineau man who clung to his 4-year-old daughter by her fingertips as a tornado destroyed their home last Friday.

In Only Seconds: A Tribute to Love

A tempestuous rage of cyclonic wind
hovers intensely above our home.
Its daggered funnel
makes quick contact,
chewing and swallowing rafters and roofing.
He runs hastily to his daughter’s screams,
to swipe her away from danger;
but suddenly she is being inhaled
into its loud, throaty vortex.
In only seconds.

He grabs her small up-reached hand.
With every sinew and muscle,
he fights her abduction
into this hell of swirling scourings and scree
teeming with the horror of nightmares.
He vows that if she dies, then he will die with her.
He will hold onto her with every ounce of his might
until they are spewed out like sour milk.
In only seconds.

Miraculously, an abrupt retreat
releases them like ragdolls.
They fall into their ravaged home.
Into tears.
Into disbelief.
Into great solace.
The war is over.
He holds her tightly
knowing deeply what they have just missed.
In only seconds.

Bernadette van Duyvendyk
September 27, 2018