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Thursday, Aug. 11, 2005 07:02 am

American Life in Poetry

Edited by Ted Kooser

Every reader of this column has at one time felt the frightening and paralyzing powerlessness of being a small child, unable to find a way to repair the world. Here the California poet, Dan Gerber, steps into memory to capture such a moment.

The Rain Poured Down

My mother weeping
in the dark hallway, in the arms of a man,
not my father,
as I sat at the top of the stairs unnoticed —

my mother weeping and pleading for what I didn’t know
then and can still only imagine —

for things to be somehow other than they were,
not knowing what I would change,
for, or to, or why,
only that my mother was weeping
in the arms of a man not me,
and the rain brought down the winter sky
and hid me in the walls that looked on,
indifferent to my mother’s weeping,
or mine,
in the rain that brought down the dark afternoon.

Dan Gerber’s most recent book is Trying to Catch the Horses (Michigan State University Press, 1999). “The Rain Poured Down” copyright © 2005 by Dan Gerber and reprinted by permission of the author. This weekly column is supported by The Poetry Foundation, The Library of Congress, and the Department of English at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. This column does not accept unsolicited poetry.

Ted Kooser is the U.S. Poet Laureate. For more information, go to www.americanlifeinpoetry.org.

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