Eight Sijo in Ode to Summer Rain
by Rose Menyon Heflin
Like cattle, we took shelter under leafy trees until the rains came,
and then we tasted Mother Nature’s love and rage on our tongues,
as we felt it slipping across our parched skin while we squealed with glee.
One drop and then another fell, so very unforgiving,
both nourishing and damaging, both relentless and freeing.
There was nothing for it but to ride out the lightning and give thanks.
Those downpours carved rivers out of ditches beside the old dirt roads,
transforming the low-lying greens into lakes with their flooding
and causing the creek, so bountiful, to bubble up to the bridge.
It brought the animals such tremendous joy that, afterwards,
they howled and they sang in Nature’s symphonic cacophony,
a glorious sound echoing throughout the farmlands of my youth.
Like clockwork, a hesitant then fevered birdsong sonata
would give way to a coda anchored by the bullfrogs’ basso
and starring a solo of coyotes howling in the distance.
Each summer deluge would erode the mouths of all the sinkholes
just a tiny bit more, leaving Earth gasping, as though for air,
not unlike how the crops had gasped for water during those drought years.
After the rain, my bare and muddy feet would wander the fields,
leading me through slickened grass and puddles, on to adventure,
lost to imagination and reveling in country freedom.
Those halcyon childhood days spent dancing out thunderstorms,
enjoying the rain and Mother Nature’s pyrotechnics,
still haunt my memories, leaving me longing for one more good storm.
Rose Menyon Heflin is a writer and artist who was born and raised in rural Southern Kentucky. She now lives in Wisconsin, where the winters are cruel and the barbecue is bad. Her writing has appeared in numerous journals spanning four continents, and her poetry won a Merit Award from Arts for All Wisconsin. One of her poems was choreographed and performed by a local dance troupe. Additionally, she had an ekphrastic creative nonfiction piece featured in the Chazen Museum of Art’s Companion Species exhibit. Her recent and forthcoming poetry publications include Brown Bag Online, Defunkt Magazine, Fauxmoir, Feral, Great Lakes Review, Poemeleon, sPARKLE & bLINK, SPLASH!, Star*Line and W.E.I.R.D. Read her previous poems in Deep South here.