Embracing the Rain
Here in my 70th year, I’m seventeen once more,
leaning on the back-door frame and watching summer rain.
The same thunder rolls its drum around an oily sky
as I step out, raise this same face to a gravity of cloud,
and remember. My problem was always that it took me
so long – too long – to grow up. Contemporaries
were adults long before I reached adolescence
where girls were sinful things, dreaded, desired, never met.
God clung each day like some voracious raptor to the neck,
eager to strike at eyes and yelp my shame to the world.
He’s gone now, thank life. I was lucky, grew out of him, moved on,
discarding his tainted entrails on the path behind me,
but I smell him sometimes, unctuous in the centre of town
or pacing from house to house with his magazines,
and wish I could shout to those innocents, “Throw him off –
ignore! Taste the clear stream and refuse to be ashamed!”
Yet here I am in my 70th year, seventeen again,
still leaning against the back door, still welcoming the rain.
Drawing by Sarah Hasty Williams
Originally from Liverpool, United Kingdom, Harry Owen has lived in Grahamstown, South Africa since 2008, where he hosts the popular monthly Reddits Poetry evenings. His work is widely published in literary journals in South Africa, the UK, the United States and elsewhere. He is the author of seven poetry collections and editor of three anthologies, including For Rhino in a Shrinking World: An International Anthology (2013).