rain clouds drift off with their promise

Bett Angel-Stawarz


Our gaze is to the sky and in these few words we share something of the poet’s feeling as the chance of rain passes by. The poem has an appealing softness in both the sound of its words and in the gentleness of its image, however it also carries a sense of disappointment which might hint at hard times. As it turns out, the author lives in the fruit growing district of Barmera nestled in South Australia’s beautiful Riverland region, an area that is no stranger to drought.

We might well imagine that the emotional implications here could be more keenly felt by those whose livelihood is dependent upon the land. In writing this though it struck me that we are all dependent upon the land and all dependent upon the rain. This brings to mind yet again the interconnectedness of all things and our dependence upon one another. I am sometimes bemused by media weather presenters who seemed to assume that grey skies and rain are something to grumble about and that perfect weather means a sunny 250 C. I do enjoy sunny days but also cherish cloudy skies, gorgeous in grey, cold as you like and pouring with rain.

The word promise is especially artful here. As it is written, the clouds hold this promise of rain and yet also this word gives us a sense of the disappointment felt by the poet as this promise remains unfulfilled. There is a sense here of a seamless connection with the space of the sky and the space of emotional experience. It is this suggestion of the oneness of mind and world that entices me here, a connectedness between observer and observed. The one-line form works particularly well in this context, enhancing the image of clouds drifting off into the distance. In these few words we become sky watchers, hopeful of its bounty and sympathetic to feelings arising out of shared human needs. Word and image linger, perhaps even drift to the edge of reverie, lovely indeed.

First published: Frogpond 30:3 (2007)

Selection and comments by Simon Hanson