Friday, June 14, 2013

What the Rain Says

I have a photograph of my sister,
my cousin, and myself.  Each of us
is barefoot and standing on wet grass
in gleaming plastic coats.  In the Instamatic’s
click, no one is fighting.  Our hair is flattened
slick and shiny and drops of rain trickle
down our grinning faces.  The rain said,
don’t hide, and we didn’t.

          If it rains on your wedding day,
          you will be rich.  If it rains
          on your birthday, you have been given
          the gift of prophecy but you won’t know it.

One midsummer, when I lived in Stockholm,
it rained so hard we cancelled our picnic
in the Archipelago.  Sat on the living
room floor with Benny and his dog
Gorbatjov and ate pasta with Gorgonzola sauce.
A few years later, Benny was dead.  He was buried
with his dog.  His mother told cousins and aunts
that he had died of cancer.  We queers
at the funeral knew better.  The rain didn’t fall
the day we buried Benny, but if it had,
it would have said, we all die of something. 

                 If you see a sparrow drop from the sky
                 when it is raining, your hair will fall out. 
                 Chemotherapy will do the same,
                 but not always.  Catch three raindrops
                 on your tongue, and your true love
                 returns to your bed; four and she never
                 walks back through the door. 

I have a garden.  When it rains, the flowers
in my garden bow as if in prayer,
but the next day, the weight of supplication
lifted, they shoot back up and face the sun.
The rain likes this resilience and resolve.

The next time it rains, I will follow
the flowers, kneel so low to the ground
my forehead touches the dirt.  Then,
I will think about sisters and cousins,
dead friends and lost dogs, and listen
when the rain says, let go.

                   ("What the Rain Says" appears in Outside In Travel and Literary Magazine.)