Sunday, April 17, 2011

Day Seventeen - Rain by Claribel Alegria


As the falling rain
trickles among the stones
memories come bubbling out.
It's as if the rain
had pierced my temples.
streaming chaotically
come memories:
the reedy voice
of the servant
telling me tales
of ghosts.
They sat beside me
the ghosts
and the bed creaked
that purple-dark afternoon
when I learned you were leaving forever,
a gleaming pebble
from constant rubbing
becomes a comet.
Rain is falling
and memories keep flooding by
they show me a senseless
a voracious
but I keep loving it
because I do
because of my five senses
because of my amazement
because every morning,
because forever, I have loved it
without knowing why.

Rain by Claribel Alegria

Isn't it funny how rain stirs memories and gives us reason to pause and think. We've had torrential storms here in the Washington D.C. area these last few days, yet I've found time to open my windows and sit in the dark silence listening to the clip clap of heavy raindrops thumping the ground. I'm left, like Claribel Alegria, thinking and sifting through the memories that "come bubbling out." The "pierced temples" that Alegria speaks of are not so much an immediate pain, but more so a tunneling into the past that we hold in our fragile minds. In these gentle containers of time gone by, we carry "tales of ghosts." For Alegria the ultimate tale is when she learned her beloved was leaving forever. This pain reminds her that "a gleaming pebble / from constant rubbing / becomes a comet." In this example that serves as a much larger metaphor for what happens in life, the pebble is striped of it's gleam and beauty by the constant pressure and pain, only to find new life in a form of even greater beauty, strength, and rarity. The trade off is that the comet can't be touched, can't be predicted accurately all the time, and is perfectly distant in it's beauty, almost as a mythical creature is. A transformation like this is bound to remind Alegria, and all of us readers, that memories point out what we don't want to acknowledge about the world: that it can't be figured out. The "senseless world" is "abyss / ambush / whirlwind / spur," it's a place of confusion, disillusionment, and longing. Still, the world, with all its faults is also spread full with goodness, with reasons for holding those memories that can unlock our pasts we would rather keep hidden. Alegria enumerates these reasons the world is good when she closes the poem by saying "but I keep loving it / because I do / because of my five senses/ because of my amazement / because every morning, / because forever, I have loved it / without knowing why." The world eludes our understanding, even though the rain stirs memories and begs us to find purpose and clarity in our past and present. We may continue to seek understanding and we may continue to be frustrated as our quest leads us to dead ends, but there is a greater message. Do not lose the love of life, do not forget to greet each day with your senses that make something like rain so enchanting and mesmerizing, do not lose the ability to be amazed, do not lose the fresh starts of new days, and do not lose the past, even if it is tinged with pain, because all is prelude to now, and now you are ready to live.

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