Rains I & II
A poem by Chase Ambler
Rains I & II
The first drops lick the glass
like highway bugs on windshields.
Stirred by the rising winds,
an empty grocery bag skips across the asphalt
recalling tumbleweed in equally barren landscapes.
Droplets are overtaken by faucet streams
and not long after forge into a toilet flush.
Then, the clatter of pelting dandruff litters the ground
and opens fire upon the roofs.
Beneath this death rattle
you can hear the plants gurgling from their watery grave—
the very vegetation that had hailed for moisture
just a few hours before.
Like the salty droplets of joy that escape laughing eyes,
the first water falls from the sky.
The flora reaches with verdant limbs towards the pregnant clouds,
green with longing for what they carry inside.
Drop after drop plunk down on the petals
which rhythmically bow in gratitude.
Light, parched earth is overtaken by moist ground,
vibrantly darker, nourishing the roots, the stems, the leaves,
then passing life to herbivore and carnivore in turn.
Each drop like liquid gold yet most invaluable on this Earth.
The gift of water from above is very life to all below—
those who had wilted without hope
just a few hours before.
Rains I & II was written this summer during the (you guessed it) rainy season here in Colorado. We were getting torrential downpours almost daily, and many times it turned to hail. In an arid climate like Colorado, which is a steppe desert in many parts, we need all the water we can get, but all of it at once obviously leads to floods. This poem was written in two segments—one with negative imagery and one with positive imagery.
I’ve always thought that hail looked strange. It’s not beautiful like snow, and it’s not clear like rain. It’s an in-between state that just seems to cause problems. I hope that the metaphor I use for hail is clear enough, but I really feel like it resembles “pelting dandruff [that] litters the ground.” I really wanted to work in the negative imagery into all parts of the stanza. I hope it doesn’t make too many eyes roll, but I’m proud of my little pun in the next few lines with the dual meaning of the word hail. “The very vegetation that hailed for moisture / just a few hours before.”
Rains II flips the mood on its head and tries to work in much more positive imagery around rain. I wanted this stanza to be full of life, as compared to the death of Rains I. Again, I had to add a bit of a pun based on the multiple meanings of the word green—green as in envious, green as in the color of plants, and green as in young and alive. “The flora reaches with verdant limbs towards the pregnant clouds, / green with longing for what they carry inside.” Though I’m not as proud of that one as I am of the hail line in the first stanza, I still think it works well.
The main purpose of this poem is to highlight the duality of everything—rain being the specific example used here. The balance of life is such that too much of one thing, or not enough of that same thing will cause death. Just take a look at my vegetable garden; some of the plants are flourishing and growing beyond our wildest dreams, and some have withered away completely.
I hope you enjoyed the poem and the split idea I was going for.
Water: “each drop like liquid gold yet most invaluable on this Earth.”
Chase Ambler is an American writer who spent his childhood in South and Southeast Asia. His life has been shaped by strange obsessions: heavy metal music, mountains, travel, and soccer. These subjects have all molded his poetry and prose in some way, but the birth of his daughter may have the greatest impact yet. He lives with his wife, baby daughter, and dog in Colorado. If one went looking for Chase, they could find him anywhere from changing diapers to summiting 14,000 foot mountains, but odds are he’s in front of the computer working on his next novel. Visit the FB page for his Novel: Snowsong