Ode for Rain from Death Row
The rain is a cold, clean prayer,
the only light I want to see.
I say it still rains on her
like it rains on the bars and streets
somewhere outside the walls.
And in the rain, she is always twenty,
her shoes always candy-red Converse,
her jeans always damped to her thighs,
her mouth never parted from mine.
She hasn’t pressed her lips to glass
since the fire; the ashes are back to ashes, the dust
follows dust, the spring rain powders her arms
and evaporates in the stare of the sun.
And this rain is the only light I want to see.
A mist that kisses till my socks are sponge,
till the fire fizzles and baby is back again
cooing with hot-chocolate-warm hands.
Before I die I want to stand outside,
birth-naked, let the Lord soak me.
But options and pardons are gone.
The priest only offers a glass
where my throat wants a holy rain that pours
in sheets and hoods and lasts for forty days,
till it floods, and floats my sins away.
First published in published New Writing Scotland 2010: Stone Going Home Again (2010), revised for Oxford Poets 2010: An Anthology, and collected in Tomorrow, We Will Live Here, 2010.