The Rain Stick

after Seamus Heaney

Heaven is a far cry from the contents
of this messenger’s tube: pebbles or peas,
desiccated seed or a fistful of beans

that trick the ear into hearing last trickles
of rain, water droplets cast upon hot griddles,
god wringing out a tissue he’s wept into.

These castanets or spilled rice grains,
these coffee beans fed down a grinder’s chute
create illusions. You want rain? Step outside

and a high wind full of honest tears
will teach you that this cactus stalk
could never be enough to slake your thirst

or wash away the curbside grime
and drizzle fallen petals in the dirt,
or paint her hair, just so, against a cheekbone

and turn her cotton shirt into a peepshow,
or make plain the fact of windowpanes
and all the things that they obscure.

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