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Published: Sun Apr 15 2018
Eva Lundsager, Were now like (detail), 2021, oil on canvas
AGNI 87 Arts Nature
Autumn Rain

                              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.

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Ralph Black is the author of two poetry collections—Bloom and Laceration (Green Writers Press, 2018), which won the Hopper Poetry Prize, and Turning Over the Earth (Milkweed Editions, 2000)—and a chapbook, The Apple Psalms. His work has also received the Anne Halley Poetry Prize from The Massachusetts Review and the Chelsea Poetry Prize. Poems have appeared in The Georgia ReviewThe Gettysburg ReviewOrion, AGNI, and West Branch. He teaches at SUNY, College at Brockport, and lives in Rochester, New York. (updated 10/2019)

 

 

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