American Life in Poetry: Column 018

BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

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.


We do not accept unsolicited submissions. American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (www.poetryfoundation.org), publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. 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. Introduction copyright © 2018 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction's author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006.