Drought Rhythms (poem)

Drought Rhythms


what is this falling
from a tumultuous sky?
 
it must be angel's tears
only they could be this pure
 
but
if they are crying...
 
we work hard here
this land does not
forgive easily, yet
 
deep in our hearts we know
God left us a long time ago
 
& now the angels are crying
 
*
 
our arms, legs, faces
under the furnace
gnarled & knotted
the bark of bent malignant trees
 
saplings in this stony valley
grow into the most twisted
stunted things
 
nothing seems to grow right here
 
only the land remains unchanged
the old moon
rising above the mountains
jagged teeth
 
*
 
they left
& we never saw
them again
 
out over the mountains
searching for rumours
of the cities
 
I no longer believe in them
 
*
 
howling storms
that only appear
 
in this basin
splinter our shelter
 
& rip everything
out of the ground
 
you shrug &
start again
 
*

sometimes it is the land
teaching us
 
sometimes there is nothing
except dusty earth
beneath our feet
 
sometimes our footsteps
falter
 
*
 
I will leave less substantial
imprints -
I walk between earth & fire
fire & shadow
 
the world must be so light
balancing in the ether
 
our short life
such short life
 
show me
the point
on this tinder earth
 
where
 
the angels
drift
 
to heaven
 

Joanne Fisher

First published in Catalyst 3

When I was still at school I remember reading a short story set in the Australian Outback where there had been a drought for so long in the area that kids living there had never seen rain before. In the story one of the kids in the farm wakes up one morning to find it is raining and doesn’t know what it is… A few years later I found myself dwelling on this story and wondering what someone would think rain is if they had never previously seen it. This poem is set in the future where the remnants of humanity are trying to survive in an isolated valley. Any sort of faith has long since become a shamanistic worship of the land they try to survive on, though there are vestiges of others…

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©️2022 Joanne Fisher

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