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“rain travel” by W.S. mervin

I wake in the dark and remember
it is the morning when I must start
by myself on the journey
I lie listening to the black hour
before dawn and you are
still asleep beside me while
around us the trees full of night lean
hushed in their dream that bears
us asleep and awake then I hear
drops falling one by one into
the sightless leaves and I 
do not know when they began but
all at once there is no sound but rain
and the stream below us roaring
away into the rushing darkness

I like that the poem begins quietly: The speaker is waking up, thinking about the long day ahead of them – like many of do when we just want to stay in bed – and nothing besides the person’s breathing next to them makes a sound. It’s the kind of silence that sits on your chest, especially when you consider you might be one of the few living (day) creature who’s awake. The trees lean in like a security blanket, inviting the speaker to fall back asleep, which they do, then the music of the rain brings them back.

If you ask me, one of the best feelings in the world is to be woken up by rain. However, what makes that image powerful in this poem is the fact that the rain makes the speaker feel alive. Read this part again:

all at once there is no sound but rain
and the stream below us roaring
away into the rushing darkness

All that water falling down makes it sound and feel as though the rain has surrounded them. Now they feel smaller. They feel the strength of the rain. A strange sense of infinity grabs hold onto the speaker as they live fully in that moment, lying in bed, listening to the sound.


Those who was in the same poetry class as me last year are perhaps laughing at this, because it was obvious in some of my poems that I love rain. I love it! I love the smell of the air before, during and after the downpour. I love the myriad of sounds rain can create when the drops land: it trickles, drums, pounds, washes, drips, etc. I love watching the different shapes the water makes on windows, or when the wind pushes on, building waves of drops that dance through the air. Sometimes – when the humidity is right, I think – teeny tiny rain drops will hover, morphing into a mist, as though the clouds have come down to earth to stay for a moment. There have been some late evenings out with friends when that happened, and I couldn’t help but stare; that mist enhanced the light from the street lamps around us, the moisture clung to our clothes and the air felt fresher as I breathed in.

So you can guess how I feel when I find a poem about rain.

I got story for ya: In the summer of 2013, my family and I traveled down to North Carolina to see the Smoky Mountains and the nature parks in the area. One day we drove to this awesome mountain called Chimney Rock and it was pouring the entire day with only brief intervals. Part of the way up, you had to take the elevator, but there was a great deal of walking if you wanted to get higher. Which I did. Oh boy, I was in Heaven. What you see in the picture below is some crazy fog that has conjured from all the rain throughout the day.

Of course, my brothers and I wanted to get as high as possible so we left our parents behind at the viewpoint (elevation: 2280 feet) and kept climbing. By the time we reached the top – or least as far as tourists were allowed – we were 2480 feet in the air and surrounded by a mixture of fog and clouds.  It was so cool!

Chimney Rock (summer 2013). Elevation: 2280 feet.

Chimney Rock (summer 2013). Elevation: 2280 feet.