In fact, it’s a good idea to talk about something else before you run out of things to say about Autumn Rain. —Richard Hugo
A dirt-scrolled hand, thin
as a river, blurred like wax paper
against the kitchen window,
the veins blue-wired through the skin,
is humming like Robert Johnson,
like Blind Lemon Jefferson on the corner
of Muscatel and Lightning,
someone tap, tap, tapping the D string
against the positive charge,
making the dead man twitch,
a secondhand Martin slung
over the shoulder of his thrift-store coat,
everything frayed, giving way,
everything becoming some other thing—
the way a song takes hold, a couple of notes
ruckusing like grackles in the trees, swirling
in the throat of a woman who carries
a grocery sack of soap and nail polish,
quilting thread and thimbles from the last
five-and-dime this side of the county seat.
The sky is a sheet of smoothed foil.
The sky is thick as the breath of the man
in the ball cap on the bench under the spreading oak
across from the bank, screwing a paper sack
around the neck of a bottle. The trees in the park
do their autumn trick—eight hundred hands
flashing a hundred thousand coins.
The light at the end of the street signals
in every language but one. Somewhere
up ahead the rain sputters, then purrs.