Incantations for Rain

Withered grass crackles under my feet, and my flip-flops leave a dusty trail en route to the backside of the farm. I am intent on closing a gate, but halfway along I kneel to study wide cracks of parched earth and discover underground ant highways and intersections exposed by the drought.

I rise to the long screech of a red-tailed hawk. He sits high above me in a live oak, and I hear the flutter of giant wings on takeoff. I look up to watch him soar to his favorite perch atop a dead pine that overlooks thirsty pastures, teeming with appetizers of baby rabbits and mice.

Plastered in sweat and dust, I secure the back gate and try to spit a salty, metallic taste from my mouth, but I’m dehydrated and only manage to fire a pathetic chain of spittle toward the sun.

Nothing but dirt scents the air. Grit has lodged in my nostrils as I follow the same dusty path back to the house. A few low-level clouds have gathered. But I’m skeptical. Every afternoon, clouds congregate to tease a chance of showers. Then right after sunset, the stingy sky-angels dissipate and take with them my incantations for rain.

Fat droplets of water from their gray bellies are what I long for. A widespread downpour that hammers for hours to animate birds, fill the ditches, hatch mosquitoes, incite a frog symphony, douse wildfires, flood trails, and green back the ravaged fields and the trees.

Photo by Denis Collette, Creative Commons license via Flickr. Post by Darrelyn Saloom, co-author of the memoir, My Call to the Ring


Buy a year of Every Day Poems, just $5.99— Read a poem a day, become a better poet. In August we’re exploring the theme Rain.

Red #9


  1. Jessica Fern says

    I want a tall glass of cool water and a bath after reading this. I know that dry, dusty heat so well. You describe it beautifully.

  2. L. L. Barkat says

    Maybe if our landscape hears your landscape’s incantations…


    We’ve got so much rain we hardly know what to do with it. When is someone going to invent a rain funnel?

  3. says

    Laura, oh, how the Ozarks need that funnel to lead straight down here…

    And that last magnificent sentence, Darrelyn, is a reminder of why I read every damn thing you write. So so rich and poetic.

  4. says

    What a lovely new voice here at TSP! Beautifully complemented by Collette’s photo. “Incantations” is such an evocative word.

    A headline in today’s paper indicated we’re 7.5 inches below the level we need to overcome the drought here. I’ll take steady showers but not more of that phenomenon known as derecho.

  5. Deirdre Gogarty says

    Another wonderful piece. I could taste the dust in my mouth. Love the line “teaming with appetizers of baby rabbits and mice.” Though is does make me cringe for the poor little critters!

  6. Jenny F says

    This piece is beautiful. I’m blinking the dust out of my eyes.

    I’m not at all surprised the rain arrived the next day. Your words are more powerful than a rain dance!

  7. Ayse Su says

    I felt like I was in your backyard staring at the sky, hoping for it to rain. The frog symphony sounds amazing too :)

  8. says

    As usual, Darrelyn, you take me with you wherever you go when you write! I’m in the center of a dryness, and a hotness, and a weariness of waiting for rain, reading this. I smell the dust, and I thirst for rain. I am your farm as you leave dusty footprints in my dirt. I am the seeds of unsprouted wildness, waiting patiently for my thirst to be slaked, and my green to burst out. Thank you for transporting me there!

  9. Hilary Dartez says

    Love your writing Darrelyn. It is so soothing in how you describe your environment. Reminds me to take it all in every chance I get.

  10. Hunter Holland says

    Absolutely wonderful! I agree with Deirdre, I love when you refer to the rabbits and mice as being appetizers for the Hawk, great poem!!

  11. says

    In the first four paragraphs I can feel the world drawing in and drying up. And then bam, with the first word of the last paragraph–fat–I can feel and see those think droplets of water that you imagine. Lovely.

  12. Christian Allman says

    I can almost feel the cloud-heavens open up to bathe you in praise for your poignant, but humble incantations. You just may have conjured the key that unlocks the sky.

  13. says

    “Nothing but dirt scents the air” is very powerful for me! Gives me access to so many memories that my words don’t recall… I can’t even describe what that line did to and for me. but, thank you.

  14. Cindy Bullion says

    Darrelyn, I love this! I can really relate to it too! Thanks for putting this snippet of what drought is like into words for us.

  15. Deborah cutler says

    Even though you didn’t mention the heat I could still feel it.
    You always bring me back into the moment with your wonderful descriptions. That’s such a nice place to be. For some reason I’ve got to go and get a nice cold glass of water!

  16. LeAnne Guidry says

    I love “stingy sky-angels dissipate”. I had to read it again a few times (once out loud just to hear it)
    Loved this piece!!

  17. Sandra Ellender says

    I enjoyed every word. Now we need a little less rain. Mushrooms sprouting in the yard and swarms of mosquitoes. Ah…summer in Louisiana!

  18. Mary says

    You had me at “underground ant highways.” I smell the dirt and hear the flutter of wings. Wonderful piece.


  1. […] Besides the daisy, I also lost five tomato plants, two eggplant seedlings, two potato hills, and two zucchini vines that just never had a chance. I’m not even going to talk about the grass. The basil and the beets might make it. Might. The thyme and the marjoram are my priority, since their survival this season means years of tasty stir fries and sauces. Overall, the casualties were steep, and I can blame it on the rain. Rather, the lack of rain. […]

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