Burning in the Rain

By Richard Blanco

Someday compassion would demand
I set myself free of my desire to recreate
my father, indulge in my mother’s losses,
strangle lovers with words, forcing them
to confess for me and take the blame.
Today was that day: I tossed them, sheet
by sheet on the patio and gathered them
into a pyre. I wanted to let them go
in a blaze, tiny white dwarfs imploding
beside the azaleas and ficus bushes,
let them crackle, burst like winged seeds,
let them smolder into gossamer embers –
a thousand gray butterflies in the wind.
Today was that day, but it rained, kept
raining. Instead of fire, water – drops
knocking on doors, wetting windows
into mirrors reflecting me in the oaks.
The garden walls and stones swelling
into ghostlier shades of themselves,
the wind chimes giggling in the storm,
a coffee cup left overflowing with rain.
Instead of burning, my pages turned
into water lilies floating over puddles,
then tiny white cliffs as the sun set,
finally drying all night under the moon
into papier-mâché souvenirs. Today
the rain would not let their lives burn.

Take Heart: A Conversation in Poetry is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. Poem copyright © 2012 by Richard Blanco. Reprinted from “Looking for the Gulf Motel, ”University of Pittsburgh Press, 2012, by permission of Richard Blanco. Questions about submitting to Take Heart may be directed to Gibson Fay-LeBlanc, special sonsultant to the Maine poet laureate, at [email protected] or 228-8263. “Take Heart: Poems from Maine,” an anthology collecting the first two years of this column, is now available from Down East Books.