Gray Day (Pine Trees Dripping)
And as if you weren’t wet enough
in God’s awful downpour, not coming
in, like that proverbial fool, and standing
too close when a car throws water up and off
the street, and it curls over you like the back
of a seashell, like a wave breaking on your head, gritty,
gray, cold as an oyster.
And aren’t you always supposed to be
somewhere? Sitting guilty in your car
in a drugstore parking lot, reading creasy
paperbacks, Rilke in a “new” translation.
And rain thick as rushes, rain no wiper can
wipe, whipping drops like crystal thumbs.
Rain, popping the windshield like BBs. And
can’t you just have this minute, this one minute?
Tomorrow you can joke about getting old, dying.
And what specter might there be who would dare
stand before you and declare that even the asphalt
does not rise up to reproach you, does not scrape
its accusing finger out of the shiny paving to point
at you, and remind you that in bright bathrooms
your body bares its weaknesses and betrayals,
and that in the marbled light of the wet afternoon
the leaves whisper there, detailing your
failings each to each, that from under the grumblings
of autos comes a deeper voice detailing every defeat,
every coming short, every apex, peak, summit, zenith,
alphabetically fallen short of. And who is that at
the corner where the three streets converge, beckoning,
overly dramatic in his peaked hood, ridiculous in his
peaked hood, pretending to be Death, Fate, the Eternal
by John Calvin Hughes
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Editor’s Note: Intensity rules the lines in this poem. Run-on ideas and imagery create the emotional confusion of growing old with all its attendant anxieties.