Philip Levine

(January 10, 1928 / Detroit, Michigan)

The Rains - Poem by Philip Levine

The river rises
and the rains keep coming.
My Papa says
it can't flood for
the water can run
away as fast as
it comes down. I believe
him because he's Papa
and because I'm afraid
ofwater I know I can't stop.
All day in school I
see the windows darken,
and hearing the steady drum
of rain, I wonder
if it wil1 ever stop
and how can I get home.

It did not flood.
I cannot now remember
how I got home.
I recall only that the house
was dark and cold, and I went
from room to room calling
out the names
of all those I lived with
and no one answered. For a time
I thought the waters had swept
them out to sea
and this was all I had. At last
I heard the door opening
downstairs and my brother
stamping his wet boots
on the mat.

Now when the autumn comes
I go alone
into the high mountains
or sometimes with my wife,
and we walk in silence
down the trails
of pine needles
and hear the winds
humming through the branches
the long dirge of the world.
Below us is the world
we cannot see, have come
not to see, soured
with years of never
giving enough, darkened
with oils and fire, the world
we could have come
to call home.

One day the rain
will find us far
from anything, crossing
the great meadows
the sun had hidden in.
Hand in hand, we
will go forward toward nothing
while our clothes darken
and our faces stream
with the sweet waters
of heaven. Your eyes,
suddenly deep and dark in that light,
will overflow with joy
or sadness, with all
you have no names for.
This is who you are.
That other life below
was what you dreamed
and I am the man beside you.

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Read poems about / on: home, rain, school, autumn, brother, dark, believe, river, sometimes, silence, remember, world, house, water, fire, joy, heaven, sea, alone, sun

Poem Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003

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