RAIN! In honor of El Nino's "moisture plume" that's predicted to sweep into droughty California this weekend and next week, I'm posting a couple of rain dance poems. One was based on an authentic rain dance I was taught in Hawai'i. We hired this teacher and he came with his drum to work work the four of us who were sharing a house on Kaua'i. He played and we danced on the lanai, summoning the gods of rain, and then it rained for three days straight! On and off, though, so our vacation wasn't spoiled. I have ever since been impressed by the idea of rain dancing. Thanks to the editors of Stirring magazine, where "Rain Hula" originally appeared:
Hula at Anini Beach
arrived on our moldy lanai,
swept-up hair bedecked with a hibiscus.
in an orange sarong, he kissed
us damply on both cheeks,
air, a double cross. Introduced himself
Pa’ula without looking us in the eyes.
demonstrated the kahiko, a history in dance
Hanalei Bay’s fifteen kinds of rain.
large, wide feet stamped
the spade-digging torrents of aka-ula,
his fingers petal-whisked hanini showers.
brown biceps rippled up a sea spout
a chant rose from his proud throat,
belly-anchored cry to clouds.
But the eyes mourned as he broke
each leaf-soft move
our architect and teacher fingers.
laid mourning words at our white feet
they tangled on themselves and sweat sprayed.
the beach, palm fronds thrilled
his drum, but we woke
the neighbors with our stamping.
This one is from my most recent book, Gods of Water and Air (available in ebook or print on Amazon):
contrapuntal drumming on skylight and roof,
vivace, allegro ---
of notes up and up, rain’s
exercises. Mesmeric hour, then bullet-hail.
thousand knocks on the door. Hello, hello?
knows I’m trying to get out, but pretends
one’s home. I’m inside the instrument, hammered
vibrating strings. All night the poles shift, mayhem gusts.
that, between us only hard rain for days,
roll over to touch, he rolls away. Lightning’s
split. Shivering for hours.
bend sideways in the blast, seaweed in currents.
redwood snipped off by a bolt. The dog under the bed.
storm door is open, but it’s not the Doors of Paradise,
with figurines like the doors of the Baptistry in Florence
day we browsed, careless of our savings. Today we’re baptized
deluge, out of cash and luck, and despite umbrellas and cloaks.
endure cold-lipped neck kisses of rain dripping down our backs
trudge to chilly coffeehouses. With Old Testament winds,
sculpts. When the chisel slips, a car is crushed by a tree.
falls into the ocean. A car hydroplanes off a freeway,
its occupant, I lie undiscovered for days.
weeks of storms, a wet juggernaut from the northwest
slushy southerlies. Soil sludge, but gardeners
jet-packs still blow around the ruins of hedges, mad
gods who hurl monsoon rains. Even computers
weathermen can’t get it right: Thou shalt or shalt not?
been undone by the yammering, and lay my neck
altar. I ready myself to join the sky,
rushing down the drains.
was what they called a computer model
hurricane stalled in the middle of the Golden State.
of wet, many feet of rain, new rivers and lakes
had been towns, a flood subsiding into giant puddles.
needed to decide about disaster drills, but canceled the meeting
of rain. We were haunted by the crackling air
the sky, like us, refused to relent.
Labels: nature poem, poetry, rain, rain dance, storm