Welcome to where I am, where my kitchen's always messy, a pot's (or a poet) always about to boil over, a dog is always begging to be fed. Drafts of poems on the counter. Windows filled with leaves. Wind. Clouds moving over the mountains. If you like poetry, books, and music--especially dog howls when a siren unwinds down the hill-- you'll like it here.


MY NEW AUTHOR'S SITE, KATHRYNSTRIPLINGBYER.COM, THAT I MYSELF SET UP THROUGH WEEBLY.COM, IS NOW UP. I HAD FUN CREATING THIS SITE AND WOULD RECOMMEND WEEBLY.COM TO ANYONE INTERESTED IN SETTING UP A WEBSITE. I INVITE YOU TO VISIT MY NEW SITE TO KEEP UP WITH EVENTS RELATED TO MY NEW BOOK.


MY NC POET LAUREATE BLOG, MY LAUREATE'S LASSO, WILL REMAIN UP AS AN ARCHIVE OF NC POETS, GRADES K-INFINITY! I INVITE YOU TO VISIT WHEN YOU FEEL THE NEED TO READ SOME GOOD POEMS.

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Monday, July 14, 2008

Rain!


I grew up knowing what drought was like, my father more and morose as each day passed with no rain. One of the first poems I ever wrote was titled "Drought," and I still remember how the cornfields looked after weeks of dry July weather. My father was convinced that there would be a water war between Metro Atlanta and rural Georgia and that farmers like him had to gear up for it, learn how to use water as efficiently as possible, not to mention politics. Even after his death, I can imagine him standing with shotgun in hand as a great wave of Atlantans comes guzzling across the state, ready to suck up all the water they can for their sprawling city.

Dwindling supplies of oil have led to apocalyptic visions of violent conflict among countries desperate to keep their economies running, but water is what we should be worrying about. Climate change is leading to worldwide water shortages, and we are seeing our own weather patterns shifting in ways we can't predict. Wasting water has become a way of life in our country. In fact, wastefulness in all things has become the American Way. Most of us give water only a passing thought.

Yesterday, though, I wanted to celebrate water!

Finally we had been visited by rain, enough to make a difference in our garden. All through the weekend we had drizzle, and then Sunday a real rain. I walked out Monday morning to diamonds shimmering on leaves, tomatoes, grapes, and tall asparagus plants.




More precious than diamonds and rubies this water, I thought, remembering the poem I had written so many years ago, in which Alma, the mountain woman speaking the poem, walks out with her future husband onto the steep
hillside he will inherit.

Diamonds

This, he said, giving the hickory leaf
to me. Because I am poor.
And he lifted my hand to his lips,
kissed the fingers that might have worn
gold rings if he had inherited

bottom land, not this
impossible rock where the eagles soared
after the long rains were over. He stood
in the wet grass, his open hands empty,
his pockets turned inside out.

Queen of the Meadow, he teased me,
and bowed like a gentlman.
I licked the diamonds off the green
tongue of the leaf, wanting only
that he fill his hands with my hair.

from Wildwood Flower (LSU Press)

6 comments:

Pat in TN said...

We had a day of a nice soaking rain towards the end of last week, and although it really didn't amount to a whole lot, my husband and I commented to each other that we haven't had rain like that in YEARS, yes, YEARS. It was just so nice to see that we simply sat on the front porch and watched it. Yes, call us crazy!!! HAHAHA!!! Over all, last week we were blessed with 2 1/2" of rain, but you would never know it now ... the garden is dry, dirt like sand, and there are big cracks in the ground and although the grass perked up a few days it's going back to crunchy brown.

We were like you though ... just celebrating the water, and thankful for whatever comes our way.

JohnstonCoArts said...

I'm reading Midnight's Children by Salman Rusdie right now and in the very first few chapters, he speaks of diamonds being tears and its a very strong visual/descriptive metaphor that he continues to refer to throughout the narrative. So when I saw the poem Diamonds, I immediately thought of tears.

Kathryn Stripling Byer said...

Thanks, Pat and Jessica--I suppose rain is nothing to celebrate if you are in the Midwest suffering from flooding, but around here it's cause for wild, crazy celebration. I loved the connection with Rushdie's Midnight's Children, a book that knocked my socks off years ago when I read it. Alma's diamonds become tears for her, as well, as her life progresses in Wildwood Flower. What a great metaphorical connection---thank you for drawing it together.

Vicki Lane said...

My lunchtime re-reading today is DUNE by Frank Herbert. Fits right in with the discussion, this planet where it never rains and water conservation extends to rendering down bodies for their water. It's a remarkably beautiful book in places -- don't go by the movie or the books that followed.

Tipper said...

Great post! As always-loved the poem. And I totally agree with you on the subject of water.

sam of the ten thousand things said...

Thanks for this post. You are right about the water.

Ann Richman opened my eyes to the Alma poems, and I'm glad she did. Wildwood Flower is a powerful read. You close the boook with a strong, archetypal notion of journey and water in the image of the river that is a perfect fit for all the poetry that has preceded that moment -:

      I'll shiver
and hide myself under the laurel leaves.
Step from the thicket
and whistle, I'll run away into the green
silence, into the empty air. Lose
you. But Love look around. See that
lone strand of silver hair carried downriver?

I'm the type of reader that is drawn to a poetry that rises or opens itself into something else. That something else is, no doubt, possiblity.