The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Facing Aridity by Diana Woodcock

This selection, chosen by Guest Curator Alaina Hanchey, is from Facing Aridity by Diana Woodcock, released by Wayfarer Books in 2021.

Waiting for Rain at the Edge of the Arabian Desert

On one side,
Hurricane Florence
inflicting havoc;
		on the other,
		Typhoon Mangkhut,
		so far the year’s most
		powerful storm—wind gusts
		200 mph. Signal 10.
Emailed my friend in Macau,
asked if he’s alive. He replied,
First time ever, casinos closed—
how’s that for a wake-up call?

So many people still in denial—
skeptics and heretics,
those with too much to gain
by going on as if nothing’s changed.
	They have no time to behold
	nature’s splendor and terror,
	their ears closed to the music
	of the spheres, moan of autumn
	wind, silence in the crescent moon.
They would sooner rule
the world though it’s hotter
and more cruel than ever.

Florence on one side,
	Mangkhut on the other.
		On both, people died.

I am troubled by the century’s
piled-up disasters, tired and
afraid even as autumn’s coming on
in the Arabian Desert, bringing
hope for rain—not torrential
	like Florence and Mangkhut,
	but enough to awaken dormant seeds.

Comforted by the scents of
cinnamon and ginger, the sight
of Painted ladies catching fire
in their migratory flight,
I announce to myself all is right
with the world here and now
where I am—this one perfect solitary
	luminary moment all there is,
	all I have—so I’ll rejoice
	and be glad, it is enough
till my good luck runs out,
my time’s up. Already
I’m cleaning out the clutter,
learning to do without.

This poem is a temple
from which I am summoning
the divine. I have all the time
in the world to wait—or not, it’s running
		out, the clock ticking—

nowhere to go, safe
on my patio. But no,
	there is no escape.

Diana Woodcock’s fourth poetry collection, Facing Aridity, was published in 2021 as the 2020 Prism Prize for Climate Literature finalist. Forthcoming in 2023 is Holy Sparks (2020 Paraclete Press Poetry Award finalist). Recipient of the 2011 Vernice Quebodeaux Pathways Poetry Prize for Women for Swaying on the Elephant’s Shoulders, her work appears in Best New Poets 2008 and has been nominated for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize. Currently teaching at VCUarts Qatar, she holds a PhD in Creative Writing from Lancaster University, where her research was an inquiry into poetry’s role in the search for an environmental ethic.

Alaina Hanchey, known as Harley to both friends and foes, believes rhetoric is intensely important and the way we speak can change the world. That belief was shared by her best friend, Quinn Arielle Kerlin, who inspired her to volunteer and immerse herself in those words that matter, and the connections that matter.

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