The Abridged History of Rainfall by Jay Hopler
This year, I made a deal with myself to read more things out of my comfort zone. That includes poetry, a genre of writing I still engage with timidly. To get started, I bought many of the shortlisted books for the National Book Award for Poetry. I have already read the award winner - The Performance of Becoming Human by David Borzutzky - and Look by Solmaz Sharif, and this week I read The Abridged History of Rainfall by Jay Hopler.
Where Borzutzky's and Sharif's work focused on the suffering of a nation, a people, on war and the way we take bodies for granted, Hopler's work was about the loss of his father. All are moving. I found myself drawn, however, to Hopler's lighter poems. Perhaps fitting for a Sunday read. Here are a couple I really enjoyed:
O, the Sadness Immaculate
The women in Rome are so beautiful,
It's like being beaten to death in slow motion,
Look at them--; it's like bleeding.
So I don't look
At them. I look at the parrots nesting
In the olive trees,
The moon rising behind some ancient
Something-or-other (a church, probably), the first few stars--. From my study
window, I can
See the house where Galileo invented
The telescope. I wonder what he was
Thinking about that night--that night
He first searched
Heaven; I wonder what it was he was
Trying not to see.
Self Pity is Better Than No Pity at All
When the moon's white push unplumbs the sunflower,
The yellow mums behind my father's house disappear
In a combustion of butterflies. Too bad
I am not a lover of butterflies.
Such a rowdy hallelujah
Is wasted on me. Even so--, I don't think it would be
Such a bad thing, disappearing
In a combustion of butterflies.
It would be better than staying in this ghostly house
With nothing to keep me company but these yellow
Mums and butterflies.
That crooked sunflower.
And that moon. That pushy, pushy