Poem of the Week

Over and Above

Jennifer Grotz

Because I didn’t want it to end,
and because I was all alone again,
because in those seasons attention
was my only form of prayer,
I attended the summer rain.
When it pelted the lake like fingers
across a keyless piano, I attended
the fingertips’ perforations on the soft surface.
Inside a theater of quiet the trees made,
permeable, though, at least studded
by bird song, I attended the mosquitos
floating like eyelashes in the thick air.
And before turning back from the lake’s edge,
needing to confirm it still so,
I wrapped my hand around a cattail
and squeezed: spongy and veloured
as an espresso-soaked ladyfinger.
I grew in those seasons, said Thoreau,
like corn in the night. They were
not subtracted from my life, but so much
over and above my usual allowance.
Sometimes I imagined the rain was also
attending me, that I was its interlocutor.
It had been born, it seemed to say,
like any living thing, from certain
right conditions, it had gained force
as it grew and persisted to stay alive.
And the rain could pray harder
than me. It continued even when
I stopped listening, then started again.
That is how seconds, minutes, a whole
afternoon would spill out until there was neither
forward nor back only this other
kind of now, over and above, this thick
haze of humid heat gauzing the distant trees.

Jennifer Grotz is the author of Window Left Open and co-translator of Everything I Don’t Know, the selected poems of Jerzy Ficowski, with Piotr Sommer.
Originally published:
February 24, 2021

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