Dust Storms Are a Way of Life

While traversing Idaho in the old days, you had to worry about ambushes and running out of water: now we’re all terrorized by weather on the stretch of Interstate 84 that runs from Burley to the Utah border. In the winter, it is often closed because of whiteouts and blowing snow. In the summer, menacing dust storms blow in without warning.

The recent massive dust storms in Phoenix, Arizona, have reminded us of the power of dirt and wind. Usually the storms are more annoying than dangerous as the wind churns up the earth, pelting us with sand and stinging our eyes, making us run for cover. Sometimes, however, the storms become deadly. A few years ago, I attended the triple funeral of a softball teammate, her husband, and daughter who were killed when they drove their car ran into the back of a semi during one of those freak storms.

My poem, “After the Dust Storm,” is about the ecological damage caused by a dust storm. It was written while walking in Twin Falls, Idaho, following one of those summer storms.

After the Dust Storm
By Judy Grigg Hansen

The imprisoned sun broods
behind a mauve shroud
brim with sweet, rich earth
that would have grown
corn and potatoes—
precious topsoil swept up
by an angry wind.

(Note: This poem won first place in the 2010 IDAHO Magazine William Studebaker Poetry Contest)


About Judy Grigg Hansen
I write poetry and nonfiction, and I am passionate about the people, places, and wildflowers of Idaho and the Northwest.

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