Storm Force! a west coast tango, of sorts

This poem was published at the Tourism Tofino website in December.
Poem and photos by Joanna Streetly

dance with me

nods the wind, with all the intent
of a milonguero, hungry for the tryst
and so it begins, glances exchanged
the first chord strummed, the unmistakeable ruffle
as an ocean gathers her skirts, flourishes them
at the fluttering fan of the trees, branches sighing, tempted
by the thrill of it, innocent
still innocent

Ocean storm, Tofino

and so it begins
pressure falling, stormwind rising
rushing the ocean in sudden runs of steps
the sea’s skin darkening with every gust
air like blood squeezing through the bellows of winter
and the wind swings wild, wilder
singer and dancer surging together, apart
crescendo, glissando, and oh! the supple backbends of the trees
bark peeling, branches spinning from the strong arm
of the wind, whirling toward the climax, the deep
red centre of the low, the sudden silence
before the roar
heave, surge, spill, devour
sea-licked channels penetrate the shore, reach for the dark
rim of the forest, each groove deepened by the in-and-out
swell, the in-and-out tide
all eyes on the dancers now
the reaching sea, windmilling sky
the whipped-up shrapnel of froth, jetsam,
tangled mounds of dark coiling kelp
and oh! the shooting spark of a white bird, emerging
soaring through the tunnel of waves, the dips
and curves of the dance, and the weighted fist of clouds
unclenching, falling open

and after in the forest, the wreckage of trees
finery of branches far-strewn in
the chaos of rapture
oh! the chaos

©Joanna Streetly

Ocean storm, Tofino

Milonguero—title given to a man who embodies the essence of tango.
Cabaceo—the invitation to dance, usually a nod or a glance.
Bandonéon—musical instrument, like an accordion used in tango dancing.
Abrazo—the embrace.
Cortina—the end of the dance, the parting of dancers.