Sally Keith

Song from the Rain


Outside I hear the steady rain in tiers

       first on the tin roof, hitting

like on a buckskin snare, then

       it drips, both high and crisp

and from here this sounds

       like a hive. The cars streak by

blurring it all. The yellow bus

       looks midnight blue. The sound of the rain

is a knocking—relentless and gravity

       like something I can’t undo.

Inside the body

       the sound is full of mechanics

and pipes and screws. It arrives

       early in morning as two lamps

reflect in my dark windowpane.

       One lake map (the shape

of something horrible, ragged

       in flight and impossible, with ripped

wings) so small in its frame

       and the sound of the rain is crossing

that lake in my mind, in a boat

       in heavy wind and in rain.

Inside the sound and suddenly

       I notice what wanting may be.

I ask what complexity is --

       I ask what is joy --

and smaller drips hit what sounds like a stream

       fast moving, out from a gutter.

It's nothing that floats, it's rusting

       blades on a fan; dumpsters

of stones inside construction sites;

       a restaurateur's new shipment of spoons.

The day before me is this rain,

       this game of darts where we throw

for speed, we throw for force and

       to win. The sound goes softer, now

like soaked skeins of unused yarn,

       blue hills, stacks of lost letters,

a thrumming heater, a bass guitar,

       a glass of wine. If it gets any softer,

I'll go (I promise myself). But the sound

       of the rain makes a war. I'm helpless

against it. I'm like some desperate lover

       who runs the length of a state

and then when she opens the door

       eyes like a stream, answer

unmistakable. How it falls on me

       and it falls on me

like rain, then more.

       As I hold up my arms to cover me

as I cover my head in retreat

       the water gets everywhere. I run

behind the house, where her garden of phlox

       is trampled after so much rain.

Indistinguishable. The purple petals

       are lost in weeds of green. The rain

is a quarry and sinking. The rain

       is a bathtub alone in a room.

It sounds like consequence.

       It ends like steam.