Kid, this is the first rain

Jeffrey Bean

of November. It strips off the rest
of the leaves, reminds trees
how to shiver. I think to Earth
it looks like the first first rain, the water
of the beginning, swirling down hot
into gassy soup. The bubbling stuff
that imagined trees to begin with, and also
mountains, kangaroos, dolphin cartilage,
stoplights. And you, tearing down
hills on Arnold street, a blur
of training wheels and streamers. And me
in the ’80s, crunching Life cereal on the couch
beside my night-owl mother, blue in the light
of David Letterman’s grin.

Try to remember, everything that is solid
is not solid. But slowly, always melting. The road
cracks, wrinkles like a folded map. Huge trees
lie down, throb into pulp inside termites.
And the ground drinks you,
though you grow, a tall drink of water,
going down easy. It swallows me faster
and faster. But don’t worry. Look at
our neighbor’s roof—those fake gray shingles
are crumbling, growing a thick pelt
of moss. Eventually
we all wake up as forest.

More by Jeffrey Bean

Ella’s Plan

She’ll hold her hand out a window
on a June day, snatch a chubby fistful of air,
clutch it all night beneath her sheets. 

Out of a dream of flight she’ll emerge,
vast as a yard of clover, and fall like a comforter
over the neighborhood. Then she’ll shimmer

like a maple in the wind. You might catch a whiff
of pine-sweet air—that’s her hair—but she’ll never
let you look right at her. She’ll dart in your periphery,

quick as a dining room mouse. Dusk,
she’ll gobble her handful of breeze, and puff
upward in pieces, into the hot-pink west.

How Ella Knows

Ella’s hands know she’s alive today.
Her piano is drenched in sunlight,
 
and she spends the morning coaxing hums
from its belly. She has made a pet of the wind,
 
and she lets it in through the screen door, feeds it
dried blooms from a rhododendron.
 
She thinks about all the mirrors in the houses
on her block. Then she crosses the street
 
to her neighbor’s yellow door, peers
through the mail slot. It’s dark in there,
 
and all she sees is a stack
of blue plates on a table. Where
 
are the secret drawers filled with cigarettes
and diaries? Where are the boxes of pliers
 
and hammers, the screws flexing
their tiny shoulders? The needles and gum?
 
When a spider drifts up toward the ceiling,
the afternoon stops moving. Ella stares
 
for a long time. Then she blinks,
and the leaves go back to sizzling.

Kid, this is October,

you can make the maples blaze
just by stopping to look,
you can set your clock to the barks
of geese. Somewhere the grandfathers
who own this town lean down to iron
crisp blue shirts, their faces bathing
in steam, and blackbirds
clamor in packs,
make plans behind corn.

You know this,
you were born whistling
at crackling stars, you snap
your fingers and big turtles
slide out of rivers to answer.

You can swim one more time
in the puddle of sun
in your water glass, taste icicles
already in the white crunch
of your lunch apple. Go
to sleep. I’ll put on my silver suit
and chase the sky into the moon.