for a rainy new years day

January 1, 2007

Jersey Rain

Now near the end of the middle stretch of road
what have i learned? some earthly wiles. an art.
that often i cannot tell good fortune from bad,
that once had seemed so easy to tell apart.

The source of art and woe aslant in wind
dissolves or nourishes everything it touches.
what roadbank gullies and ruts it doesn’t mend
it carves the deeper, boiling tawny in ditches.

It spends itself regardless into the ocean.
It stains and scours and makes things dark or bright:
Sweat on the moon, a shroud of benediction,
the chilly liquefaction of day to night,

The Jersey rain, my rain, soaks all as one:
it smites Metuchen, Rahway, Saddle River,
Fair Haven, Newark, Little Silver, Bayonne.
I feel it churning even in fair weather

To craze distinction, dry the same wet.
In ripples of heat the August drought still feeds
Vapors in the sky that swell to drench my state–
The Jersey rain, my rain, in streams and beads

Of indissoluble grudge and aspiration:
original milk, replenisher of grief,
descending destroyer, arrowed source of passion,
silver and black, executioner, font of life.

~robert pinsky


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