Before the Rain

By Lianne Spidel Lianne Spidel
Minutes before the rain begins
I always waken, listening
to the world hold its breath,
as if a phone had rung once in a far
room or a door had creaked
in the darkness.

Perhaps the genes of some forebear
startle in me, some tribal warrior
keeping watch on a crag beside a loch,
miserable in the cold,

though I think it is a woman's waiting
I have come to know,
a Loyalist hiding in the woods,
muffling the coughing of her child
against her linen skirts, her dark head
bent over his, her fear spent
somewhere else in time,

leaving only this waiting,

and I hope she escaped
with her child, and I suppose she did.
If not, I wouldn't be lying here awake,
alive, listening for the rain to begin
so that she can run, the sound
of her footsteps lost, the sight
of them blotted away on the path.

Source: Poetry (May 1999).


This poem originally appeared in the May 1999 issue of Poetry magazine

May 1999


The daughter of an automotive artist, poet Lianne Spidel grew up in Detroit and was educated at Wittenberg University and the University of Michigan. Her free verse poems explore themes of art and family. In RATTLE, David Lee Garrison noted, “The observations of Lianne Spidel are sometimes poignant, sometimes ironic, always precise.”

Spidel is the author of the chapbook Chrome (2006), and her poems have been included in the . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poems by Lianne Spidel

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Family & Ancestors, History & Politics, Social Commentaries, Nature, Relationships, Weather

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

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