Variations on Texts by Vallejo and Justice

                  Me morire en Paris con aguacero…
                  I will die in Miami in the sun…

I will die in Portland in the rain
on one day in a string of rainy days,
a day that the dogwalker puts on her wet shoes again
and the homeless in Sellwood wheel their carts past yellow bins
and Mt. Hood will not show, the moon will pass full
and no one will notice, and friends will rest in their doorways,
lean against the doorframes, smell the dry leaves in piles
in the entry, and warm a hand by blowing in its fist.

I think it will be on a Tuesday like today, except
the rain will be light, a veil across the cheek,
and the fat drops today flattened the crocus petals
and I think it will be a Tuesday because today
when I walked my dog through the wet streets, the homeless
were nowhere and the yellow bins were full of cans they could return.
And the buds on the cherry trees were red.
Never before had everything looked so full:
my life, these words, the sky, the wet Tuesday.
And my dog insisted on sniffing every phone pole,
and the neighbors kept waking in the rain.

Kate Gray is dead. One Tuesday the rain softened,
it coated the buds, it slid down the apartment buildings,
the bicycle tires sounded like waves on river beaches,
so many riders before dawn despite mud and traffic.
And after awhile the friends with their warm hands
pushed off from the doorframes, stepped past the oak leaves,
and walked into the rain, eyes soft and full.

 

 

Kate Gray

About Kate Gray

Teaching at a community college for 20 years, Kate Gray tends her students’ stories. Her first full-length book of poems, Another Sunset We Survive was a finalist for the Oregon Book Award in 2007 and followed chapbooks, Bone-Knowing (2006), winner of the Gertrude Press Poetry Prize and Where She Goes (2000), winner of the Blue Light Chapbook Prize. Her novel, Skin Drag, is an attempt to look at bullying without blinking and will be published by Forest Avenue Press in 2014.
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