How to Unleash a Thunderbolt

by jkatejohnston

19 July 2013

Dear Max,

I just watched Barack Obama’s talk about the Trayvon Martin verdict. What a good head that man has. And how rare for the right person to say the right thing in the right way at the right time. I watched the whole thing on You Tube and realized how rare it is for me to give undivided attention to anything. But this compelled attention.

He said it might help for people to try to wring as much bias out of their hearts as they could, and as I was writing this I noticed how my fingers still spell O’bama and then I have to correct it. And when I lived in Kenya my choir director was Mr. Omindi. He was Luo like Obama’s father and their names mostly start with O’s. But still, my fingers don’t believe that we have a Luo-American President and not an Irish one.

Well, I’ll forgive my fingers, and I’m sure I have far more serious biases that I don’t even know about.

One of the things I loved about his talk was the very quiet simple way he said it. That’s the way to unleash a thunderbolt.


Last night Enzo had Magnus over. They’re very fond of each other. (See May 20 It was the first sleepover for both of them, and Magnus ended up wanting to go home right before bedtime. (He’d been there since eight o’clock that morning, and they were both pretty well cooked.) But what I wanted to write about was right before reading time when we got out dominos and started to set them up, and Magnus started the game and then it was Enzo’s turn and his face was kind of falling apart, tears standing in each eye and then plop plop, he was crying. He put his face in his hands, and when I walked over to him he hugged me tight around the legs and buried his face in my skirt. I picked him up and he put his wet face against my neck. His body felt limp and heavy. “I need some privacy,” he whispered. Magnus was looking on, fiddling with the dominos, embarrassed and concerned. I said something apologetic to him, and he nodded. I carried Enzo into his room and lay down on the bottom bunk with him lying on top of me. I scratched his back. More tears were leaking out and running down my neck. Magnus came in and started playing with Enzo’s punching bag. After a few minutes Enzo whispered, “Can I have extra privacy?”

I apologized to Magnus again and took Enzo into our bedroom. After about a minute he got up and got a Kleenex and roughly wiped his face. It was all swollen from crying and bruised from some bump earlier in the day.

“Do you think Magnus and I could have magazines together?”


“Get it? Magnus and Magazine?”

“Are you ready to play another game?”

“Yeah. You tell him. I’ll be right behind you.”