Poems of the Two Worlds, 1977

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"When it rained and rained"

When it rained and rained
and I was a child
I looked from the windows
Of "39"
across the slick street and
over the roofs
of three-storey houses—
brick and white trim—
hushed in the wetness
while high in the distance
above dim facades
water-towers loomed . . .

until the front door
three flights below
slammed, and my father's voice
rhythmic, searching
rose up the stairwell
calling a name,
the name that was mine—

and I cried out too
naming him back
in our secret tongue
and ran down the deep
stairway to find him:
we met at the heart
of the darkening house

as evening set in . . . Soon
the lights would go on.


After the last battle,
the enemy having been cut to pieces,
he rode a short distance from the field
and dismounted.

Sat in his armor on the grass
and gave word to his staff
that he wished to make a flower-arrangement—
they, however, lacked the equipment.

So he took a bucket, and his horse's bit
(which he hung by one ring from the bucket-handle)
and rigged them into a flower-holder,

then with his bloody sword
cut wild blossoms and grasses
and in an hour's silence
composed a subtle and delicate combination . . .

Those whom he had conquered
he must now judge;
he wished a mind clean-purged
of violence and ardor.