Welcome to Sunday Morning Lyricality, featuring a weekly song or poem by a Minnesota writer.

This poem appears to be confronting us with the uncomfortable reality that our puny brains are far from perfect and easily tricked. We humans are vulnerable, gullible, and delusional, and our planet is only one of at least 10 trillion planetary systems in the known universe. And yet, the poet reminds us, inexplicably, we matter.

Tracy Rittmueller

The Return Stroke
Mike Finley

Few of us see it this way
But when lightning occurs —
I won’t say “strikes” —
It does not appear in the clouds
And then shoot down,
the way our minds tell us it does.
Something does strike, called the leader,
but we do not see it
and it does not light up.
But then, from the ground,
A visible bolt shoots up into the sky.
This is known as the return stroke,
It is the earth talking back, it is
returning the sudden energy
to the storm.
The weather supplies the electricity —
but we supply the light.


Mike Finley has been connecting to Minnesota audiences for 50 years. He was editor of the Worthington Daily Globe, and a columnist for St Paul Pioneer Press. He’s written nonfiction books and over 159 digital books of stories and poems. Currently he is retired and dealing with metastatic cancer. He was recently featured on Lyricality’s blog, where he discussed the hobby of poetry as a loving encounter with the world outside of oneself.

"The Return Stroke" first appeared in 
88 Objects of Happiness Arrayed in 
Ascending Order by Mike Finley (© 2018). 
Appears here with the permission of the author.