Shaking Loose Retained Rain (Zuihitsu)


Shaking Loose Retained Rain (Zuihitsu)

Eyelids leaves after rain, pale and thinly-veined; overhead, translucent green outlined by opaque damp; my brother calls about his own veins as I walk, hard spots clotting legs after an operation.  And, so, I think, we fail.

Caisson, draped in flag, troops through me as he speaks, lashed curb of long ago November ’63, Washington, D.C., the lone stallion backward-booted stirring reins; what we had been as a people days before.

As a harder percussion begins again–wind shaking loose retained rain, unswaddling the clinging downpour–the pain behind my eyes descends my inner face for no root cause that I can name, other than the fact that life stops short (or long.)

Sure, I’ve known it, like the day’s weather mapped out in advance, but now, as tree limbs sway like upturned skirts, I lie beneath some unknown piano (grand), where a delicately slippered foot, its arch curved like a closed eyelid, periodically pumps the pedal by my head, and, as I hope in that thick of that dust and wood that, if I stay quiet enough, I’ll be allowed to stay up late, I catch the scent of the woman’s hose, a delirium of nylon as seductive as glue, gasoline, a cedar drawer tinged with secret lingerie, blurred together in a child’s mind like raw batter, illicit in a great glass bowl.

One thistle highlights the field, a softly feathered burst of mauve belying thorn; the wind dying now so that raindrops quiet, barely fingering a distant scale.

************************************************************************

I worked on the above draft prose poem for Kerry O’Connor’s Wednesday Challenge as part With Real Toads (poetry site.)  The challenge was to write something like a Zuihitsu, which is a Japanese form based on the idea of a “following brush.”  (Read Kerry’s description for more information.)  For those who follow this blog, this prose poem was the underpinning for a much shorter poem I wrote this past weekend  called Feuille. (Reason for some of the overlap.)  This weekend, I was trying to really shorten everything.  But the Zuihitsu seemed to allow for the digressions of the original piece.  (More or less.)  I’ve edited a fair amount since first posting. 

The poem is supposed to describe a moment after the rain has pretty much stopped, but I could not resist, in these drought-ridden days, posting a short video of a the rain that came before that stopping. 

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22 Comments on “Shaking Loose Retained Rain (Zuihitsu)”

  1. brian miller Says:

    i really love the 4th stanza/paragraph…under the piano and watching the foot…interesting progression in this…and i thought some of it sounded familiar….we had some really hard rain last night….boomed again tonight but no rain…

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Yes, I’d cut all that and the Kennedy part from the other. I thought it an interesting exercise to go back to my original writing, but it is a bit close! Thanks, Brian. (a bit cooler here.)

  2. Susan Says:

    “now, as tree limbs sway like upturned skirts, I lie beneath some unknown piano (grand), ” Love it!! I see it, feel it, hear it–and as you go on you appeal to every other sense as well. Is what is happening to the brother similar to what happened to the Mom in the past? Add to that the military funeral with its backward stirrups, and I feel the sadness held in the little porch, and the retained rain dropping as the tears fall. “life stops short (or long).”

    What a beautiful poem, what hard times, what a peaceful porch space for contemplation and restoration.

  3. margaretbednar Says:

    Such an interesting exercise. This really is a dream-like approach and it flows and twists in a way I don’t always understand, but I am fascinated as I ride along… just like a deam :)

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Hi Margaret, I realize that the reference to November DC was a bit obscure, especially for someone from a different generation, so added 1963 to tie it down a bit more. k.


  4. Really enjoyed all of this but this line stood out:
    ‘As a harder percussion begins again–wind shaking loose retained rain’
    There is something magical about hearing the music in rain, isn’t there.
    Like Brian, I also enjoyed the imagery of hiding under the piano and the details of the slippered foot.

  5. David King Says:

    Eyelids leaves after rain, pale and thinly-veined; overhead, translucent green outlined by opaque damp; my brother calls about his own veins as I walk, hard spots clotting legs after an operation. And, so, I think, we fail.

    This – and much that follows – is fabulous writing. Very exciting to read.

  6. hedgewitch Says:

    Pardon me while I get the drooling over for the rain video…rain! real, wet, cool, dripping rain!…*additional delirious maunderings*
    Okay, now the writing. I found it interesting that you used another poem for a jump-off point, too, and that does sort of echo the framework of the Pillow Book as I recall it, which was prose and poetry, and what I as an illiterate Westerner think of as stream of consciousness. Both the shorter poem and this do share mood, both are tense and effective, yet the additional detailing of more memories in the second makes for a more rich, lush, fertile experience in some ways (or maybe I’m seeing the rain too positively because of our current state–it could also be taken as more dark, more misty-moody)–I also like the cutting, tight feel of the first one though. Beautiful work, karin–I enjoyed all of it, and I love the original eyelid/leaf/vein metaphors especially.

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Thanks. We’ve been very lucky with the rain as it was preceeded by lighter ones that let the ground soften up a bit. I’ve got at some point some wonderful “eft” shots, those little orange salamanders that are not as plentiful this summer due to our mini drought, but did come out a bit. This poem actually came before the tighter one, sort of. I don’t know. Anyway thanks. k.


  7. but now, as tree limbs sway like upturned skirts, I lie beneath some unknown piano (grand), where a delicately slippered foot, its arch curved like a closed eyelid, periodically pumps the pedal by my head…

    Oh, these words are just so so so good. I loved your approach to this piece and thank you for sharing on Real Toads, despite the problem with the link! I would hate to have missed this.

  8. ladynyo Says:

    This is lovely. i was immediately drawn by the imagery. You make it so immediate.

    Lovely throughout. Something to contemplate.

    Lady Nyo


  9. Such an awesome imaginative piece with much in the way of creative unique and random imagery and words!! I def. enjoyed this!


  10. Very beautifully written. I loved reading it, picturing the child under the piano, the slippered foot……..lovely.

  11. jenneandrews Says:

    Gorgeous– sorry I’ve been so far behind… are you on Facebook? I update quite a bit there. Re your comment on my poem– the child-speaker after the litany of traumas begins to distract herself: We are out of crayons here…. I see her comforting herself in the ensuing lines ending with the lyrical rhetorical statement about the starlight. xxj


  12. This is wonderfully done, Karin.
    The thought of November ’63 brought back a flood of memories. For decades we asked one another, “Where were you when…?” and I guess now the question is “on 9/11″ but the echoing shock is similar.
    I loved so much of this work, and, if I could trust my memory, I think I’d always remember your thistle description “a softly feathered burst of mauve belying thorn” …so beautiful.
    K

  13. Ella Says:

    I love the insight of thought! It was like a moving meditation…beautiful and unique :D

  14. shanyns Says:

    The rain, that really moves me. It brings memories, shakes loose thoughts and ideas. And it can really paint us around in a wild way, we poets. Well crafted!


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