This poem originally appeared in Hubbub, Volume Twelve, 1995. Dedicated here to my California friends who desperately want rain. If this doesn’t conjure rain, nothing will.
That night it rained, the first of the season,
You went to sleep, wind battering droplets
Against the panes. They were all there, you dad,
His wife, your wife, your brothers rolling dice
On the porch. The dust kicked up for no reason,
The trees tossed. A drink vanished from your hand,
The sky darkened, and the first drops hit. It’s
The pungent smell you recalled, parched earth’s release
As it turned damp, the mad elation you felt
When the roof drummed suddenly with rain.
And there was dad, streaking naked down the steps,
Dancing a crazy jig on the yellow lawn.
“What’s he doing?” shouted Ti. She started down
The steps, was gone. There was nothing to explain.
His wet skin glistening, he bent his lips
To kiss the muddy ground, then twirled, and knelt,
Threw back his head, flung out his arms, and made,
With delicate care, sweeping angels on the wing.
You thought how much more white was in his hair,
How thin his hips, and when he rose, how strange
To see him shimmy, and his scrotum swing,
Half your engendering bare. How small and sad
You were, your makeshift cardboard shield, your lunge
Into the hissing field as though you could spare
The dance from view. You and Holly capered
To keep up, and Matt cavorted among you all
Waving a garbage bag like a plastic veil.
Then Ti returned, and his song spilled out,
Its joy arresting, the single, liquid word
So plain you stopped. The sky shouted it still,
All of you, bone-wet and hearing it fall,
Even Andrew–still tossing dice–no doubt.