Only When It Rains

While subzero temperatures hammer the snowy Midwestern United States, I get up every morning glad that I’m not there. My sister reported -37 Celsius (-34 F) and the pipes froze in the new home of a friend who posted devastating pictures of the damage on Facebook. Schools were closed for two days because of severe weather.

Don’t get me wrong, they’re tough Minnesotans and they almost like it, don’t cha know! But after a while it gets to even the most stalwart among them. Except my dad. I’ve never heard him complain about anything. Ever.

The lotus pond planter overflows

The lotus pond planter overflows in the back garden

Rain pours off the roof in the front garden

Rain pours off the roof in the front garden

So I’m not complaining about the rain, really, I’m not. After all, it’s warm, and its making things even more impossibly green than before. But it’s frequent, and it’s torrential.

If you live in a house in cold climates, you have walls, windows, and insulation. If it rains, chances are it’s cold. You batten down the hatches and go about your business inside.

I have no glass in my windows. My house is three-sided with the fourth open to nature. When it pounds down as hard as it did today, I can’t hear myself think. So I run about with the camera trying to capture the wildness of it. Or I make a huge bowl of popcorn, plug in headphones, and watch Orange is the New Black – as many episodes as it takes.

And then…

when there’s nothing left to do, no escape, I write a poem to express what I’m feeling in the moment, not so much by the story, but by the way I tell it.

ONLY WHEN IT RAINS

“Do you miss them?” she asked,
lines of concern creasing her forehead.
 
A leaf sashayed to earth.
Darkness in the west
rumbled a warning.
 
She waited for my answer,
her cigarette curling plumes of smoke
upward in the thick, still, air.
 
Do I miss whom, I wondered.
My family?
Children?
Ex-husbands?
 
She flicked an ash over the rail, still waiting.
She was random like that.
Her questions seldom hooked into
any previous conversation.
 
I liked that about her.
It left options.
I could choose the meaning I wished,
she didn’t care.
 
Hanging out with her made me feel
loose,
and silly,
and a little sad.
 
“Not usually,” I said,
brushing a strand of wet hair off my face.
“Only when it rains.”
 
 
Rain making a waterfall down the temple steps

Rain creates a waterfall down the temple steps

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11 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. lyonsharon1@msn.com
    Jan 11, 2014 @ 12:19:42

    I love this poem almost more than any you have written. It painted a picture and made me wish to know the woman who asked the question even if she was in your imagination. I could “feel” it all. It somehow recalled to me those long-ago Sunday afternoons after my divorce…….

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  2. Barb Garland
    Jan 11, 2014 @ 14:24:43

    lovely, I’ve been the woman in the poem, and still can be. love you

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    • writingforselfdiscovery
      Jan 11, 2014 @ 20:30:40

      The wonderful thing about feelings is that they’re dynamic, they change. Once I realized that most of what I feel is because of the story I tell myself about it, I became much more conscious of my stories and much less attached to my feelings.

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  3. healingpilgrim
    Jan 12, 2014 @ 11:48:44

    Rainy season in all its ‘glory’… I’ve almost forgotten the monsoon-like downpours that bring motorbike riders to their knees (or least over to the curbs), the snakes that emerge afterwards, the damp mustiness that permeates our clothes… ah well, I’d still take it over -30 ANY day. Wonderfully illustrative poem; rain has a way of bringing out sadness, regret, and absence…

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  4. Lottie Nevin
    Jan 12, 2014 @ 12:42:29

    Everyone should have the chance to experience those Indonesian downpours! It’s almost impossible to take photographs that really capture the volume of rain as it falls but the one you have here, the rain cascading down the steps perfectly illustrates it. I love your poem, Sherry, it made me feel tingly – does that make sense?

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    • writingforselfdiscovery
      Jan 12, 2014 @ 20:31:57

      It was incredible to watch a trickle down those temple steps turn into the waterfall. It happened within ten minutes or less. The volume of water was unbelievable! And thanks for the ‘tingly!’ I told my writers’ group that I write poetry to manage my own emotions and also to elicit emotion in others. I’m going to take ‘tingly’ as an indication that I accomplished my goal with that particular poem.

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  5. Jessa
    Jan 12, 2014 @ 19:59:36

    Mmmm…I love that poem, Mom. I’m with Lottie, it gave me tingles too! Something about it…so intimate and personal…like we are getting a glimpse into something almost meant to be secret. Hard to describe…

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    • writingforselfdiscovery
      Jan 12, 2014 @ 20:39:33

      When my sister and I were kids, I used to make up sad songs and sing them to her. She always cried. I love reading poetry that makes me feel something and I try to write poetry that makes others feel something. When I write, it’s a way to approach my feelings honestly and create a story around them. So your perception that you are accessing intimate, private information is accurate. But I would expect nothing less from you, my dear!

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  6. Tracy McLachlan
    Jan 12, 2014 @ 23:19:57

    I can picture you and Gwen your at your mom and dad’s house. Maybe you would also sing to her out by the big garden. What an interesting story/poem you are living.

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    • writingforselfdiscovery
      Jan 13, 2014 @ 01:49:47

      Usually it was when we were playing with the plastic horses and dogs on the living room floor. The songs were always about animals. Gwen is wonderfully soft-hearted. I’m quite ashamed to have capitalized on that endearing feature!

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