Waiting for Rain, by Ellen Bass

Finally, morning. This loneliness

feels more ordinary in the light, more like my face

in the mirror. My daughter in the ER again.

Something she ate? Some freshener

 

someone spritzed in the air?

They’re trying to kill me, she says,

as though it’s a joke. Lucretius

got me through the night. He told me the world goes on

 

making and unmaking. Maybe it’s wrong

to think of better and worse.

There’s no one who can carry my fear

for a child who walks out the door

 

not knowing what will stop her breath.

The rain they say is coming

sails now over the Pacific in purplish nimbus clouds.

But it isn’t enough. Last year I watched

 

elephants encircle their young, shuffling

their massive legs without hurry, flaring

their great dusty ears. Once they drank

from the snowmelt of Kilimanjaro.

 

Now the mountain is bald. Lucretius knows

we’re just atoms combining and recombining:

star dust, flesh, grass. All night

I plastered my body to Janet,

 

breathing when she breathed. But her skin,

warm as it is, does, after all, keep me out.

How tenuous it all is.

My daughter’s coming home next week.

 

She’ll bring the pink plaid suitcase we bought at Ross.

When she points it out to the escort

pushing her wheelchair, it will be easy

to spot on the carousel. I just want to touch her.

Advertisements