Her Poem Before the Rain


A young girl is writing a poem about death. Christmas tree lights blink off and on,
strung high in the air from the arm of a crane rising from the hole in the ground where the
new bank will handle farm foreclosures. The Mission Speedway, Pablo Reservoir, a
persistent puddle out back of the Chicken Shack . . . She finds her poem everywhere.
Hanging on a nail on the wall of an old farmhouse a few miles down the road, a
photograph of the lost parents. Across the road at the junior high school the janitor
watches the cheerleaders from the crack in the boiler room wall, his fear slowly leaving.
The irrigation ditch bakes in his memory. The coal slag beneath the railroad tracks
glistens when it rains. It seldom rains.
A postcard from the corn palace, Mitchell, South Dakota, torn and stapled to a
broken locker. Woolworth’s, the Grange Hall, the apartments above the Western Wear
that promise transportation isn’t necessary.
In her poem she asks even the shadows among their lengthening children to carry
the burden. She puts markers where they sleep. If they are lost, they may not come back
and if they do not come back, their burden is ours.
Life with a limp paw, whimpering.
She whispers to the rapist, “I love you,” taking him again and again back to the
moment when she slid the knife between his ribs and wept.
Her poem acknowledges no saviors in wounds. She cautions the angels to drink us
slowly. A low fog forms in the corn. A white-winged motion passes in the night.
Someone is thumbing the tines of a comb.
And so the cry of some animal in the night turns out to be ours. She will feed her
discovery ferns and owl droppings. When it descends, she will follow. The valley opens,
the mountains lean towards the tugging moon as the lake laps at her feet.
I wake and find my dream asleep on the floor, fur matted, breath sour.
Which is enough and after. Which is moon cabbages, bones and the stars’ teeth.
Which is her poem wondering what to touch and what to sing to.

Rich Ives is the author of Tunneling to the Moon: A Psychological Gardener’s Book of Days currently being published in serial @ Silenced Press everyday in 2014 and forthcoming in paperback. Begin from the beginning, catch up, read daily. Just refer to the Burrow Guide.