77. Sunday

At the open
Church door, Thomas paused.
The congregation
Spread across the lawn,
Gathering in knots
For parting talk.
June–yet leaves fell
Crackling from the trees.

Thomas squinted.
Sunlight scorched his eyes.
On one bony
Shoulder he leaned, thinking:
More we want it,
Less it seems to
Show: rain.
So the older men had
Warned forever. They said
With their silence: hope
For nothing. And don’t
Speak. Don’t
Speculate. Just
Wait.

Thomas, younger,
Still would play some
Games: oh,
It would rain James’
Birthday. But
No rain. Decoration
Day, his deadline
Then. Passed.
Each cloud sailing,
Hundred pairs of
Eyes would size it up.
Every cloud, a chance.
Thunderhead, for sure.
No. Not
Yet.

Against his better
Judgment, even as
Tom scoffed, he scanned
The sky: blue
Pewter glare.
The old-timers
Would reveal one
Secret:
Rain follows
The plow.
Rainfall had
Increased, they swore,
When the settlers
Came and worked the land.
Tom was not
The only one, he knew,
Dragged his tractor
Out in recent days,
Riding it to
Plow in idle hope.

But–if preacher’s
Right–Tom had listened
Hard, and this he’d
Gleaned–then
All of it was
The Will of God.
It was some type
Test, or some type
Lesson. Like in
School.
Nobody enjoyed it–
Not the point.
Point was to pass
Muster, measure up.
Then God would be
Pleased, and it would
Rain. July,
Sure.

No shade. Children’s
Heads were plastered damp.
Grownups had dark
Rings beneath their arms.
Purposes of
God, Tom thought.
Had to be.
What else?
And in some way
They were all
To blame.

He heard
Voices: oh, just
Riah called his name.

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