Lara Hamidi-Ismert

My father used to warn me
about tornado-people—
those addicted to breaking
precious things. He said
they are sometimes unaware
but sometimes all-knowing.
They’ll bury anyone in their path. 

I remember, so young,
one coming, a tornado
from the east, screaming
higher-pitched than the sirens.
My mother took me down
to the basement, and we listened,
my bladder full as it approached, 

but I knew not to move until
we heard dishes breaking, a foot
through the glass coffee table,
the roaring of a man’s voice
several decibels above tolerable.
My mom held me close, phone
clutched in hand, ready to call 

more sirens to our home.
In those flickering minutes
I imagined her clicking two
ruby-heeled slippers together,
me donning my lion costume,
us fleeing down golden bricks
to the Emerald City, but did you know 

the Wizard of Oz is also an asshole,
and I’m not the lion; I’m Elphaba, and
—spoiler alert—she is the wizard’s
daughter, straddling a broom
in the western sky, shepherding
monkeys, defying his gravity.
And he calls her wicked 

as he waves a frying pan
that’s grown like a wand
from his arm. I’m only saying
this to tell you some of us
are born from evil, because
you see only what’s made,
not what it’s made from.

About the Author

Lara Hamidi-Ismert is an Assistant Professor of Mathematics at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, Arizona. Her publications appear in Communications in Mathematical Physics and New York Journal of Math. In 2019, Lara earned a PhD in mathematics from the University of Nebraska after earning a BA in creative writing and a BS in mathematics from Pittsburg State University in Kansas. When she’s not researching quantum mechanics, she enjoys writing poetry and short fiction, acting in theatre productions, hiking with her husband, and scooping her four cats’ litter boxes.