It has been raining all day. It is a good sound. Tomorrow is St. Patrick’s Day, and today I’ve been thinking about luck. And about Ireland, about how it is on the top of my bucket list, about its rain and its mists and its poets. My Grandma Doris, who came over from Country Cork, loved St. Patrick’s Day. I remember her decorative pillows with shamrocks and cute sayings stitched on time. If I close my eyes and imagine, this rain is falling there, and I am there listening.
It reminds me of this poem by Seamus Heaney called “The Sounds of Rain“:
The Sounds of Rain
In Memoriam Richard Ellman
An all-night drubbing overflow on boards
On the verandah. I dwelt without thinking
In the long moil of it, and then came to
To dripping eaves and light, saying into myself
Proven, weightless sayings of the dead.
Things like He’ll be missed and You’ll have to thole.
It could have been the drenched weedy gardens
Of Peredelkino: a reverie
Of looking out from late-winter gloom
Lit by tangerines and the clear of vodka,
Where Pasternak, lenient yet austere,
Answered for himself without insistence.
‘I had the feeling of an immense debt,’
He said (it is recorded). ‘So many years
Just writing lyric poetry and translating.
I felt there was some duty… Time was passing.
And with all its faults, it has more value
Than those early… It is richer, more humane.’
Or it could have been the thaw and puddles
Of Athens Street where William Alfred stood
On the wet doorstep, remembering the friend
Who died at sixty. ‘After “Summer Tines”
There would have been a deepening, you know,
Something ampler… Ah well. Good night again.’
There eaves a water-fringe and steady lash
Of summer downpour: You are steeped in luck,
I hear them say, Steeped, steeped, steeped in luck.
And hear the flood too, gathering from under,
Biding and boding like a masterwork
Or a named name that overbrims itself.
“Steeped in luck”! Yes, yes, yes we are. “Weightless sayings of the dead”. Whew. This is a sad one. But so beautifully wrought. In another of Heaney’s poems, “The Gifts of Rain“, he writes:
“…I cock my ear
at an absence –
in the shared calling of blood
arrives my need
for antediluvian lore.
Soft voices of the dead
are whispering by the shore
that I would question
(and for my children’s sake)
about crops rotted, river mud
glazing the baked clay floor”.
“Soft voices of the dead”. What a way to think about rain. I’m going to try to poem about rain, and luck, and thank you, Seamus.
Luck Like Spring Rain
In early spring rains, when water meets the thaw and it lasts all day, it is our dead talking. A spirited conversation in desperate union with the groundmelt, rooting us still to listen to the luck. “There is nothing you can craft to bolster you from the luck,” they say. “Stop trying. Listen. There’s luck in that listening. If you are lucky you’ll hear answers like whispers through your hair, they will come in daydreams. The dreams can be your roofs. Some of them will be the dead lore, because we never stop storying. These are our lessons, there for the listening. You, child, need to sit still and listen.
listen listen listen listen
to the new season.
We’ll swap and hear you, too. Give us the dark worries. We will tell you, let this luck be your comfort, play your cards with love, come and harken at the open window, we’ve been waiting a long time,
to talk to you.”
Ugh. That was hard going. It’s water again. I pure and simple cannot write about water the way I want. Bah. Happy St. Patrick’s Day, tomorrow! Is it raining where you are? Happy Sunday, poemfolk.