Vox Populi

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Sam Hamill: After Morning Rain

A few small sails, barely moving,

dot Fidalgo Bay. As the sun burns away

the last pale clouds, a confluence

of robins descends to explore

my neighbor’s garden—

brown grass, muddy beds and the last

fading roses of the year.

It is September, the end of summer.

My backyard maples turning orange

and red and gold. From my high window,

the great mountain looks

painted on the horizon line,

small mountains at its feet, then

headlands and the Salish Sea below.

I can read no more today

about the agonies of this world,

its desperate refugees, the men

of arms and gold whose death tolls

are as numberless as the stars.

I’ve grown weary, impatient,

as I’ve grown old.

After this morning’s rain, I dream

only of a woman’s gentle laughter,

her fingers on my arm as we sip wine

in the evening, telling tales,

lighting the heart’s small fires

that will get us through the rains

of autumn and dark winter.

Alone at my window, I watch

a silent world and find it

welcome, my own silence welcome.

Longing has its own quiet place

in the human heart, but love

is sometimes rapturous, noisy,

almost uncivilized, and knows

no boundaries, no borders.

And what am I but its solitary

pilgrim—lost, found, lost again—

on the long journey whose only end

is silence before the burning

of my body, one last moment

of flame, a whiff of smoke

washed clean

and gone with the rain.

Copyright 2018 The Estate of Sam Hamill. From the collection After Morning Rain published by Tiger Bark Press. Included in Vox Populi by permission of the publisher.


Sam Hamill (1943-2018) grew up on a Utah farm. He was Founding Editor of Copper Canyon Press and served as Editor there for thirty-two years. He taught in artist-in-residency programs in schools and prisons and worked with Domestic Violence programs. He directed the Port Townsend Writers Conference for nine years, and in 2003, founded Poets Against the War. He is the author of more than forty books, including celebrated translations from ancient Chinese, Japanese, Greek and Latin. (photo: Ian Boyden)

One comment on “Sam Hamill: After Morning Rain

  1. mfxhogan
    September 28, 2019

    Beautiful and timely with its evocative images of autumn. We miss you, Sam.

    Liked by 2 people

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