by Eric Ormsby
This was the feeling that the dark rain gave
on school days when the windows of the bus
dimmed with all our breath and we pressed close
in jostling slickers, knowing the pleasure of
being a body with other bodies, we children
a flotilla of little ducks, paddling together
on the wet ride to the schoolhouse door.
Once there, we peered outside appraisingly,
beyond the windows and the balustrades
to where the rain came down outrageously
and made the trees and signposts and the light
at the intersection swoop and toss
and fizz with gritty torrents to the curb.
That steamy, tar-damp smell of morning rain,
its secret smokiness upon our mouths,
surprised us with some sorrow of nostalgia.
Our past already had such distances!
Already in that fragrance we could sense
the end of childhood, where remembrance stands.
And when thunder pummeled the embrittled clouds —
concussive ricochets that made the teacher
hover with the chalk held in her hand —
we saw the lighting lace the school's facade
with instantaneous traceries and hairline fires,
like a road map glimpsed by flashlight in a car.