“A Town Praying for Rain” by Megan Merchant

Megan Merchant


The man at the bar says
the moon isn’t full enough
for her milk to drop.

I plug a quarter in the
jukebox and dance

the bass beat of slurry
planes bellying low

Someone spills a beer,
that hints of cinder
at the tail end.

It is in our hair—
the ash—fine
coating windows
and cars,

the hills—ghost-lit
with loss.

The waitress says,
it looks like sunset
at noon

and calls her children
to see if the road
home has closed.

I drive home
the way of grasslands,

past nineteen flags
planted into the earth.

Horses flank the side
of the road,

For those who cannot
haul out
it has come to this—

stamping a name
and address
along the body

of the horse
before setting it free.

Poets Respond
July 2, 2017

[download audio]


Megan Merchant: “I live at the edge of a town that is burning (Goodwin Fire), at the edge of a month that marks a tremendous loss (the Granite Mountain Hotshots). We have declared a state of emergency, but there is no chaos. There are people opening their homes, donating supplies, hauling out livestock and elderly—there is a community that has worn loss and sacrifice, but also resiliency and compassion. We are all praying to our gods for rain.” (website)

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