it rains, the river plunges
over rocks and the rocks
ring like bells. Prayers
swirl in the slick street.
The sheets clipped to clotheslines
unfurl, their white targets
growing gray. The roof drips
into a crater of mud.
Mrs. Tarlick comes back to her spotless kitchen
to leaf through a Life Magazine
and worry over a pot of cabbage soup.
In his bear-spotted pajamas,
Al Miltie walks outside again
and pulls a glass tube from the ground
and records the moisture levels
in his hardbound blue notebook.
As my mother steps from a shiny
red and white taxicab
in her stiletto heels,
I press my nose against the window,
leave breathprints on glass,
and a black umbrella opens its ragged
wings in a bright yellow tub.