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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & General Editor
Volume 9, Number 4, December 2015

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Mary Frederick Ahearn
Pottstown, Pennsylvania, USA


In Summer, the Rain

Now, at dusk, the rains continue their song
and I want to hear it all night long.

                —Tu Fu, "In Praise of Rain" (Sam Hamill, translator)

Yearning for rain, she thinks of ways to conjure it. A posture of supplication, chanting, sending prayers to some agricultural goddess or sweet faced saint, lighting a candle and burning rare incense. All this must be done quietly, humbly, in a true penitent's way. But no, perhaps it's better to just hold on, re-read the farmer’s almanac, and be still. She tries to remember that line of a song from years ago—something about "blessing the rains down in Africa . . .” Maybe the rain will come here tonight, from Africa or Canada or England, crossing the sea, mountains, and plains.

recess indoors
happier with crayons and paint,
the lamps lit
never the child who sang
"rain, rain, go away"

walking
once upon a summer night
drenched and giddy
in rain-wet streets, hands
entwined for the first time

Later she sits on the porch, just big enough for two, and watches the sky and trees. Rain is making its royal progress county to county, three, then two townships over. From the west and surely soon. The clouds are banking, high then low, filling the horizon. Blue has blended into gray, dove to pewter to charcoal, darker and deeper, lowering the sky to the trees. Now the wind, turning maple leaves silver side up. Then the scent of rain—the smell of fields and sweet corn. And when it rains, not a shower, not drizzle, but steady rain-on-a-tin roof rain. She thinks there should be more names for it, beautiful names as the Japanese have. No matter, she'll fall asleep listening.

in dreams
still hopeful, waiting
by the river
as evening light silvers the water
after the rain

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