Christopher Ruvo
Raining in Reverse
—for my brother

There was thunder in the floorboards,
and rain fell up to the ceiling.

They’re strange, he thought,
these reversals of gravity,
waiting in the doorway,
a bloated gym bag at his feet,
as if an angel had pressed pause
on the VCR of the universe,
locking him into this moment.

In an upstairs apartment,
a gramophone played flapper classics,
and in all the vacant rooms, he heard
ghosts in rocking chairs, tapping their feet.

The tea-kettle lamp,
bulbless on the mantle,
recalled flea-market adventures,
and on the thrift-store couch,
the rumpled quilt indicated
the afternoon’s interlude.

They were all commas,
and when time resumed,
he carried a pause to the window.

She was in the back lot,
taking laundry from the line,
rain plastering her dress
to her like cellophane.

Beyond the lot’s broken fence,
Kansas offered him flatlands of escape.

But when he saw her cigarette
still between her lips,
sagging, extinguished,
and the wicker basket stuffed with clothes,
he thought,
Maybe it’s time to heat some coffee.