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.
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