Tires on wet pavement whooshing, wavelike, by.
Raindrops, in their staccato rhythm, tapping
Blurred windows. Morning barely half awake.
A recently arriving rainy day,
When a small girl—
Still, green-blue eyes and almost yellow hair,
Warm in her raincoat, backpack on her back,
Riding the bus to school—watches the rain,
Watches black puddles, splashed by headlights, shine,
Watches how earth and sky touch gently, how
The sky seeps into houses, trees, rainwater,
Becoming silently a part of them,
How the gray sky matches her mother’s scarf—
The soft silk scarf that, in the slightest breeze,
Breathes out spring scents, spring scents she’s breathing in
Unconsciously from her recurring dream,
Her deep-as-memory, unrequited dream,
Of being tenderly enfolded by
Her mother’s arms—the scarf her mother calls
Dove gray. Dove gray—
She likes the words, the way they sound. She says them,
Keeps saying them over to herself, just as
People she sees in church will often pray,
Eyes closed, lips faintly moving.
                                                             At a corner,
The bus jerks to a stop. There, in the rain
Now letting up, in the now spreading light,
A grayish-white bird standing on someone’s grass.
She notices, then shuts her eyes again
And starts to cry.
She’s crying, because her teacher has been asking—
Because she’s never told a soul (and couldn’t)
About her mother’s early morning rages,
Slaps setting bright red fire to her face—
Mostly because the rainy day is leaving
And she’d give anything to make it stay.

Charles Hughes

Charles Hughes is the author of two poetry collections, The Evening Sky (forthcoming from Wiseblood Books in 2020) and Cave Art (Wiseblood Books 2014). His poems have appeared in the Alabama Literary Review, The Christian Century, the Iron Horse Literary Review, Literary Matters, Measure, the Saint Katherine Review, the Sewanee Theological Review, Think Journal, and elsewhere. He worked as a lawyer for thirty-three years before his retirement and lives with his wife in the Chicago area.

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