Jennifer Grotz

Listening

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Water turns everything into a jewel
then puts a metal taste in the mouth
slowly replaced by dust. Which is why standing
in the rainy street you feel much richer than you are.
Or, aware that everything will dry, much poorer.

You feel that way anyway in New York, and a little lost,
but let’s be honest, that’s what you want, to hide,
and like an owl, you’ve retreated not to high branches
but an anonymous skyrise. And like everyone else who didn’t flee,

you’re up late waiting for the hurricane.
It’s that usual hiss of nothing, of stillness, it’s
the sound listening makes, and it slowly generates
the awareness of wind lashing outside, something like a fistfight
between rain and leaf, rain winning, leaves, twigs, whole branches
chipped away and blown down the street.

Seen from the seventh floor, looking down,
full shiny garbage bags piled symmetrically
become a cluster of grapes, trembling, until one gets plucked
by the wind. How straight the buildings stand, and how
elastic the trees, how mesmerizing to watch
how completely they will yield.

And the city streets are oddly empty
except for the monotonous bounce of a jogger
making his visual tick-tock towards the park,
or the dog-walker’s vector from here to there
frustrated by his little lingering inspector.

When the raindrops start wholeheartedly,
stately at first as punctuation, how relieving it is,
now that you are listening this closely, now
that you can hear the rain-words
unraveling an epic discourse, that seems,
at the same time it calls you back to the window,
to insist you will be exhausted if not asleep by the end.



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