Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Down rivers


and here is the poem, by Philip Levine.

Rain Downriver

It has been raining now since
long before dawn, and the windows
of the Arab coffee house of Delray
are steamed over and no one looks
in or out.  If I were on my way
home from the great chemical plant
on a bus of sodden men, heads rolling
with each swerve or lurch, I would get
off just here by the pale pink temple
and walk slowly the one block back
and swing open the doors on blue smoke
and that blurred languauge in which two
plus two means the waters of earth
have no end or beginning. I would sit
down at an empty table and open
a newspaper in which the atoms
of each meaningless lie are weighed
and I would order one bitter cup
and formally salute the ceiling,
which is blue like heaven but is
coming down in long bandages
revealing the wounds of the last rain.
In this state, which is not madness
but Michigan, here in the suburbs
of the City of God, rain brings back
the gasoline we blew in the face
of creation and sulphur which will not
soften iron or even yellow rice.
If the Messenger entered now
and called out, You are my people!
the tired waiter would waken and bring
him a coffee and an old newspaper
so that he might read in the wrong words
why the earth gives each of us
a new morning to begin the day
and later brings darkness to hide
what we did with it.  Rain in winter
began first in the mind of God
as only the smallest thought,
but as the years passed quietly
into each other leaving only
the charred remains of empty hands
and the one glass that never overflowed
it came closer like the cold breath
of someone who has run through snow
to bring you news of a first birth
or to give you his abrupt, wet blessing
on the forehead.  So now I go back
out into it.  From a sky I can
no longer see, the fall of evening
glistens around my shoulders that
also glisten, and the world is mine.