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Award-winning poetry.

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This winning poem, by Rochelle Williams, is one that could have been written only in a (normally) dry place like southern New Mexico, where the arrival of the annual "monsoon" season is awaited almost as eagerly as Christmas morning.


Waiting for Rain

By Rochelle Williams


You might be looking out the window, idly

combing your hair. A bank of clouds

gathers in the west. You see it and think,

surely it will not rain.


You know the desert and its

tricks; the sleight of hand,

impossible distances of blue.

Ghostly mountains floating on

thin silver lakes of



You could be standing in the violet

shade of a doorway, breathing

odors of creosote and dust. Heat, sleek

and dangerous, begins to throb


just beyond the door.


Clouds thicken and

fan across the sky. You think, perhaps

there is hope. Sand the color

of oxblood whirls in

diminutive tempests. There is a

distant rumble of thunder.


You watch a thin mauve veil

stretch across the horizon,

dipping low, whispering promises;

a ravenous wind

burns the veil to transparence.


You shrug, thinking, no chance.

You give yourself up to relentless

sun, heat, lassitude

remembering, sharp as a cut

lemon, the odor of first drops

on hot dirt,

the clean smell of rain.

Your heart aches with an

unnamable longing.


The tide of evening washes in. Doves

begin their liquid calls. Ravens skim the warm air,

riding the currents, silent and watchful.


The same sun that poured gold

over the world when it was new spills

its dying rays on poplar and catalpa,

on honey mesquite and pomegranate,

on the loden-green spires of cypress trees,

molten at the tips.


You turn from an emptying sky.


In the night, a breeze from the open

window stirs your hair. The gauze

of dreams in which you slumber begins to fray.


There is a sound tapping

at the door of your heart. Slowly, you make your

way to the surface, awaken in the cool

mystery of darkness. The sound taps and taps

and still you cannot say what it is.


And then suddenly you know —

not from odor or sound, not from

quick damp passing like a hand over

your brow —

but from memory buried deep,


it's rain. . . rain at last.


Rochelle Williams, who lives in Tularosa, is "madly in love" with southern New Mexico. She has published stories, reviews, poems and photographs in a number of venues, including The Eldorado Sun, Lunarosity, Earthships (an anthology of New Mexico poets) ABQArts and Lifeboat, a Journal of Memoir. She is going off to finish her novel in an MFA program this fall.



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