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Hail

I was eleven the first time I saw it,

the November afternoon gone

heavy and gray. I’d begun

to doze when something—

not palm fronds rustling

nor monkey pods rattling,

but more like spoons against glass

or small bells—something began

clinking against the second story’s

blue palings and rails, lightly at first,

bringing all of us, even the teacher,

to our feet and out the door.

              Not since,

three years before, when the staticky

Standard Oil broadcast had been

interrupted by news that brought to tears

even Miss Engard (who didn’t tax

our imaginations too hard playing

the part of witch at Halloween)

had there been so much commotion.

Seeing our teachers openly weeping

had frightened us even more than a word

like assassination.

        Above us,

concrete. Under our feet, concrete.

And all of us stretching our hands

beyond the blue rails to catch,

as they fell, clear pieces of sky

that burned a second,

melting in our hands.

from PrecipitatesFind it in the library

Copyright © BOA Editions, Ltd 2003
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of BOA Editions LTD.

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