The heartland is ablaze.
The five-o’clock news anchor tells us that Tower Mountain was kissed by lightning, that it went up like a harvest bonfire before emergency crews responded. “There have been more than 1,000 wildfires in Arkansas this year,” he says, “mostly in rural portions of the state.” He makes some awkward Smokey the Bear PSA about cigarette butts and camp fires, but I cannot imagine smoking in this heat — the clock at Pulaski Bank read 113 last Wednesday — and campfires are surely out of the question.
I look out the window at my browning summer garden. I’m running a deficit of national proportions to keep it watered. We haven’t had good rain in this part of the state since late June, and I suspect we won’t see any until September. The sun is sucking the life out of the heartland. In a more dramatic moment, I might mention John Steinbeck.
In seasons like this, I wish we could conjure rain. The Zuni, the Cherokee, tribes in East Africa, certain Eastern Europeans, they all had rainmaking rituals centered around dance. I suspect these traditions are ancient, fraught with meaning and complex.
I neither dance, nor am I ancient; I lament this. Instead of dancing, I stare from the window and dream of rain, how it comes in Autumn like an old earth-lover to germinate the fall seedlings. It pitter-patters on the tin roof of the carport, builds to a crescendo like miniature drums. Droplets splatter onto the old stone walk way, slide off into the dust of the earth leaving snaky trails until they are received into the waiting ground. Earthworms rise from the deep in a greeting, and robins swing from their waiting branches to feast.
All nature waits for rain.
of longing (above
the river, the road)
The beloved country,
crude world, great.
With child, epic
In the driest season things
fall apart–the Republic,
stone crossings, touching
A river runs. Through
it, mercy rising. Faraway
home, the sun also
Rain on me holy.
The firm shadow
As I finished, a clap of thunder shakes the field. The sky opens up and I watch as the Italian zucchini leaves are pelted by precipitation. Perhaps it’s coincidence. After all, I’m no old-world conjurer. But then again?
Tweetspeak’s August Rain Project.
This month’s found poem theme at Tweetspeak is Rain. We’re compiling poems touching on the subject (no matter how loosely), and we’d love you to join with is. How do you participate?
1. This month, we will take our cues from book spines (see Glynn’s piece for more information). Look through your personal collection, the aisles at your local bookstore, or your neighbor’s bookcase and grab a few titles.
2. Arrange a poem completely from words on book spines, or use pieces of the titles to create your own found poem. Make sure your poems touch on themes of rain or water.
3. Tweet your poems (and pictures of the book spines) to us. Add a #tsrain hashtag so we can find it and maybe share it with the world.
4. If you aren’t a twitter user, leave your found poem here in the comment box (we’ll use our mind’s eye to imagine your book spines).
5. Each week we’ll share a few of the poems. At the end of the month, we’ll choose a winning poem and ask the winner to record his or her poem to be featured in one of our upcoming Weekly Top 10 Poetic Picks.
She clacks and clatters
down hardened, dusty way,
hundreds of tiny seeds
spilling by her sway.
Strings of multicolored beads
encircle her weary neck,
muscled by heavy, hand-woven
basket, plopped atop her cinta,
worn like a million women before her.
She barters harvested maize
and the woman still at the conveyor belt,
whose fingers nudge factory-punched
gold medals that stray,
negotiates an exchange.
Her deal made -a fair trade.
Grinning, her teeth like chiclets,
at loggers moving big rigs
with mechanical arms
on her way home.
The universe has made its preparations,
swirling pigments of the old with
so-called new world.
Congratulations, Grace! We look forward to featuring your poem in an upcoming Top Ten Poetic Picks.
Now, go generate a new work and come back here and rain it on us!
Buy a year of Every Day Poems, just $2.99— Read a poem a day, become a better poet. In August we’re exploring the theme Rain.