Falling Asleep to the Sound of Rain
Understanding where you live is first of all
knowing its noises which are memorized
without you knowing that they are, for instance
weather: starting after midnight after stillness
is the clink-clink Irish rain makes on its journey in
a garden in the suburbs, falling on out of season
jasmine then iron railings between
my neighbor's house and mine; which began at sea.
I loved small towns—they seemed to come from
a kinder time: shop blinds lowered on weekday
afternoons, peaceful evenings with beds turned down,
shoes gathering, two by two, under them and in
the cellars of nearby farms, stopped up, ready
to be sold on market day, oily, sharp cheddars,
getting sharper, growing older. But the truth is
there is no truth in this. I never lived there.
What would it mean, I used to wonder, to leave
everything you knew, leave it altogether, never mention
memories; start again inside that reticence?
I once drove into Tarbert at dawn. Everything was gone.
No distances; no trees. Only imagined ones.
I had to begin making my own pageant of
small hawthorn flowers, elderberry. We love fog because
it shifts old anomalies into the elements
surrounding them. It gives relief from a way of seeing.
It is the gift of sleep or the approach to sleep,
to make component parts of place and consciousness
meaningless and, as breathing slows down,
to do what water does, announce a source in cadence,
repetition, sound, allow a gradual dissolving of
boundaries between the actual and evident and still,
when all that is done, I know there never was
a single place for me. I never lost enough to have one.
I want to live where they refused to speak—
those first emigrants who never said
where they came from, what they left behind.
Their country was a finger to the lips, a child's question stopped.
And yet behind their eyes in eerie silence, was an island, if you
looked for it: bronze-green perch in a mute river.
Peat smoke rising from soundless kindling.
Rain falling on leaves and iron, making no noise at all.