The Silence and Violence of Rain

Few things sneak past my Ozark grandmother—and that includes the wonder, mischief, and brutality of Mother Nature. Born in 1924, Granny Hollis remembers horse and wagon (I kid you not) that her father drove. Down gravel roads, he maneuvered the horses to carry wife and children to a small town, not much more than a crossroads, for shopping.

Hollis grew up with certain folk beliefs, many of which forecast weather. After the katydids begin to chatter in late summer, three months later we will have our first frost. If there is a wet moon (a crescent that appears as if it could dump water), then rain is a-comin’. Hollis marks weather events on the calendar. It last rained on July 8th. Sixteen dry days after a very dry June.

This year, both spring and summer heat started early in the Ozarks. Certainly, Mother Nature is a month ahead of schedule.

We had only one decent snow. Granny Hollis and I knew from the mild winter that we’d have to endure a long, hot summer.

Will the katydid’s early call in June forecast correctly and bring frost to Ozark hill and valley when it is still September? Does the katydid’s siren call herald that Mother Nature will balance things out, and we’re in for an arduous haul until forsythia bursts gold again next year?

In the Ozarks, redbud blooms and forsythia finds are far from our minds right now. The lack of rain, the absence of thunderboomers, is paramount. Conversations about the weather are short. On the long, bone-white slab in front of my town’s post office, it’s too hot for even our chattiest of local raconteurs to share stories.

Thunderboomer

April batters Ozark afternoon
with whipping wind.
Redbuds bleed purple
on the lawn. Gray gnaws
all the way down
to toe-stumbling roots
forcing squirrels into flight.
The house cries dark
with hope
as you rise
from the breakfast wasteland
we savored like hipbones.
I follow you into the bedroom
where you curl
against me, the wind
smacking then cupping
the front door into peace,
into giving up.
You are melty as butter
while clouds
blacken outside
like toast.

Unsaid

The surprise thunderstorm draped
our town in linen. Even the mansard roofs
softened, and the businessmen
on the Square stopped to spy
blouses of rain
fall off the old opera house.
But mostly—
the miracle of lightning
quieted us.
That split second of light and heat
leaving the scent of old newspapers and salt.

Photo by Big Grey Mare, Creative Commons license via Flickr. Post by Dave Malone.

“Unsaid” is a poem in Dave Malone’s newest volume of poetry, Seasons in Love.

“Thunderboomer” was originally featured in Storm Country Anthology, published by the Missouri Writers’ Guild. The book proceeds go to Joplin schools.

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Comments

  1. says

    Dave,

    As an Ozarker, I identify. I like both pieces, but especially enjoyed the second.

    “the businessmen
    on the Square stopped to spy
    blouses of rain
    fall off the old opera house.”

    I chuckled good at that one… Nice work.

  2. says

    I’d love to know and have a Granny Hollis. Then it occured to me that I do through your words. Your prose sat me in horse and wagon “down bumpy roads” then gave a peek of Granny’s calendar (such a nice detail!).

    And the two poems are so beautiful:
    “The house cries dark
    with hope
    as you rise from the breakfast wasteland
    we savored like hipbones.”

    Now I’m “melty as butter” after reading your sublime poetry and prose.

  3. says

    Thanks, everyone. Really appreciate your kind words. Thank you Matt, that poem is one of my favorites in that collection (can I say that?). Them bumpy roads, Darrelyn, are still bumpy. :) Granny Hollis has tons of those old folk sayings, which oft strike me as romantic. Glad you enjoyed, Maureen.

  4. says

    This is beautiful work, such tender, careful use of words. Thank you.

    P.S. to the powers-that-be – when this post landed in my inbox today, the poetry format was completely GONE. it read like prose paragraphs – very strange.)

  5. says

    I really like that second one, too. After such a long drought, the lightning is shocking, and yet, everyone knows that just because there’s lightning, doesn’t mean there’s rain. So there’s a silence in the waiting and hoping.

    • says

      Hey, Kimberlee! Thanks so much. It’s funny–to use the word raconteurs makes me think of (well, not only the band) but a local hero here in West Plains. Preacher Roe. Former Brooklyn Dodger pitcher. Preacher was well known for his ability to spin a yarn, including about the origin of his nickname. :)

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