This late rain drives
into the dry soil
silent through the windows
that look out back.
One big robin bathes
in a saucer left out,
but that doesn’t mean much.
Two weeks ago a man stood
where the rain is falling,
frail, stooped, but standing,
forming words and making sense
about plants and birds and
what a garden does for your soul.
All the daylight is nearly burned,
smoke and ash of evening.
Lights from the house shine
back from wet concrete
this late rain has darkened.
The moon, we learn, reflects
the sun, so that’s what’s real.
I swear I hear a mockingbird
sound just like an alarm clock
mornings when I don’t have to
get up. So that is real too.
And today, wet streets
under the overpass, trucks above
barreling somewhere hurried,
a shower of cherries, shaken
from their crates around a curve
rained down in front of me
and adorned the roadway.
Farmers don’t like rain
when their crop is on the tree.
But I like rain almost always.
Bury us all near water,
scatter us all on water.
If it can rain cherries, it can rain
anything. Does this help?
Have a glass of rain on me.
How can you stay so beautiful?
At once so pale and broken
into blossoming scraps, then
the dark, smooth branches,
I mean black, that give up
an odd petal to the spring wind.
How do you seem to know
where to set yourself down?
You have all kinds of wild ideas.
I know redbud sees your play
of dark and light, and starts,
brushy, stubborn, with impossible seed.
All the right and fine things
derive from you, or something like you.
All the veined white blossoms
hold against the black branch, the alarm,
the thug of winter light, the whip
that arrives with such beauty.
Sometimes the longing begins early,
mornings steering the tractor through
uniform lines of grapes. The mist
settles between the rows, down where
the sulphur grabs hold of the leaves
and workers get that little cough
and surprising yellow in the kerchief.
But you are riding higher, inside the cab
no outer noise can seep into.
Bored, you decide the noise of the motor
is the noise it takes to make the whole
dark engine run, what it costs to play.
And all you see are unchanging rows,
occasional returns, like a ship
on a stage, afloat by simple optical
illusion. What others would see
as lucky, you write off as lonely
vistas, the same old same old thing.
Today you had bologna in your sandwich.
Today is Thursday. You can't remember
if that's what Thursdays always bring.
You long for a highway, a free-for-all
white line of constant change. The hands
that fold the lunch meat, lubricate the bread,
are hands you have watched for years.
Are they yours or hers? Does she wonder
where those lonely vistas will lead you?
Does she know how separate we are?