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Saturday, April 2, 2016
Some Rain by Joy Katz
Freud saw his first patient on a gray morning in Vienna;
cobblestones glistened feebly.
And it was pouring as Pollock dragged red onto Full Fathom Five.
Patty Hearst's face was grainy and soft, on closed-circuit,
as if we were watching her through a wet screen door,
but Socrates, as he died, looked sharply into the distance.
Early evening. Water coursed the gutters.
Remember the morning after, when Benjamin Franklin
did nothing in particular?
And how light loved the wipers on the bus to Selma?
Showers ruffled the Potomac as the burglars
were led over the Watergate lawn;
you could hear horses plashing as Galileo upended his telescope
to peer at the enormous, hairy legs of a housefly.
Watson, come here, I need you. Drops clung to the railings,
ran over the roof in thin streams.
In a soaking mist, the Lusitania gently sank;
bicycles stood in the rain as the students left Tiananmen Square.
The Lindbergh baby vanished through a wet, streaked window.
A few pale-green leaves were stuck to it.
Jane Eyre came back to find Rochester fumbling in a storm,
the yard full of fallen branches.
The tulip market crashed during a terrible downpour,
but oxen grazed patiently at Lascaux, not minding.
If, as Hitler was declared chancellor, the crowd opened its umbrellas,
people stood barefoot in the mud sometimes at Birkenau.
The banality of evil, Hannah Arendt wrote, crushed out her cigarette,
and got up to shut the windows.
As Marie Curie set out a small, glowing dish of radium
with her poisoned fingers, a line of storms was moving east;
faintly it thundered while my grandparents listened,
for the first time, to a phonograph.
Lewis Carroll wrote Alice onto the riverbank
while he floated downstream. The first drops were falling;
it was cool and still as the morning Alaric sacked Rome
or the one —— it was June —— Dickinson looked out at the grass
and said —— something. What? Now that was some rain.
-- by Joy Katz
in The Best American Poetry 2003 ed. Yusef Komunyakaa