Thursday, January 26, 2012

Today's Poem


In April in the country after month
upon month of summer the air
changes: skies take on the milkiness
of the film on a blind man’s eyes.
 Suddenly there is not the welcome cool
of evening. In the night the air is chill
and mornings follow in a hazy fume.

Across the windstruck skyline suddenly
like the tail of a kite, raucous black
cockatoos fly screeching to the pine tops.
And children call them the ‘rain birds’.
 Where they have been you see holocausts
of torn twigs and ransacked cones
scattered on the silent earth beneath the pines.

And now at night you hear the hidden frogs
whooping their calls. They importune
the King of Frogs to unloose his great
pale belly distending with the winter rains.
Night after night they chant and chant
litanies in the gardens, in the fields.
And at last in the norwest, darkening the earth,
rises the shadowed bulk of their King!

As often times over the lowlands
of Sumeria or the Nile           
when that scent of rain at evening
has promised the rising flood,
the frogs redoubled their pleading chants;
and a patter of answering drops comes
on the powdery dust. Dry grass stoops,
the tree leaves quiver like moths,
then ranks of grey showers hammer the roofs;
I see dark rivulets run from the spouts this night.

Afterwards as the rain steadies
on the black glistening road,
the thankful white-robed crowds
of frogs advance out of swamp and ditch
to stand in the beam of our lights,
heads aloft to their awaited God-King.
Their faith, their great longing satisfied
just as our whizzing tyres
smack them down, as if they were pale leaves
pasted on the stones by rush of rain.

            © Glen Phillips, 1969.

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