A Fourth and Final Poem
This poem is probably my last poem for a good while, because they come to me very slowly, painfully and erratically. It could be months before I get the inspiration for another one. This fourth one here is the best of the last clutch of poems. They say there is constant background noise out there in the universe – the Cosmic Microwave Background. It was 1965 when Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson, radio astronomers working for Bell Laboratories, found a mysterious microwave signal causing background noise in their radio telescope. The strange part was that the signal seemed to come from everywhere. A group at Princeton was able to identify this radiation as the leftover remnants of the Big Bang, called the Cosmic Microwave Background, or CMB for short. Anyway, this has absolutely no relevance to my poem, or maybe it has. In any case it does not matter. What matters is that the CMB we have constantly around us these supposed days of summer here in Ireland is Rain, Rain and more Rain. Dylan’s words, “a hard rain’s gonna fall” echo in my ear!
Anyway, the rain is the backdrop to this poem. Rain is at once life-giving and life-denying. Lack of it leads to famine. Too much of it leads to flooding. Just enough of it is great. What’s going on for me in this poem? Layers of things from years back – the deaths of my father and friends over the past years, the most recent deaths alluded to in these pages, old love affairs, the other presences in the poem, and also my alter-ego or my deeper spiritual self in the sense of Eliot’s “Prufrock” or “Wasteland” poems all combine to form the foreground of “Downpour.” I hope you like it. I do.
Even the downpour, unseasonable,
The cranks on the radio, unreasonable,
Cannot bring us down to those dark places
Where no light is and death reigns.
Like Lear we will rail against
The fury of the storms that hit,
And when our fury’s spent
We will rest a while
With the droplets of rain lulling us
To a sleep full of dreams
Where our lost friends live
Whom we embrace – so real -
Like the touch of your warm silken body -
And the rain keeps falling but who cares,
It waters the dry wastelands of the soul
And brings daisies dancing on the lawn
And a feast of worms for the starlings
That nest above us in the eaves.
They chirp on and on unmindful…
Of knives that cut and kill,
Of the deafening sounds of ambulances,
Of the confusion that reigns
On the dark streets where lost souls live
Behind the doors of death.
In the graveyard there’s a small cross
That marks the spot
Where our young friend lies
Smothered in the flowers of our grief’s love,
And still the rain pours down,
Lashing the windowpane above our bed,
On and on like a sacred mantra
Wishing life not death,
Washing us clean,
Cleansing us of our sins.