How The Rain Fell
You were slicing apples in the kitchen
and I was on the couch slouching,
a lizard with his neck in the sun.
Someone knocked at the back door:
the executioner with a lunch pail and hammer.
He started in the hall, planing pitch pine
and fitting wood screws to the platform.
All afternoon we watched the dust
swirl through our house like great plumes
of smoke, a team of small tornadoes.
Occasionally, hed stop to sip coffee
through his hood, steam rising
from his lips like cartoon dialogue,
while the liquid in his level
settled to a slow motion squall.
He ate tongue and feta, complained
about union dues, saw conspiracy
in the newest forms of cancer
to rob him of his job. His breath
hung like fog in the air.
We asked nothing, trusted his work
to speak for him. Trusted his rope
and scaffold, the integrity of his hands.
His long history of helping those
too tired or shy to help themselves.
The contract called for completion
by dusk, when the absence of light
and of darkness would allow us
a double knot of anonymity and angst,
would allow us to fall through
our shadows the way we once fell
through our own mothers, unnamed
and undone through no doing of our own,
the way the rain fell as we watched it,
unable to conceive of doing anything else.