Watching Night Fall

Watching Night Fall on New Year’s Day

The sun sets like a dull penny, day’s final final push against the rain. A pot simmers, black-eyed peas and greens, and the savory smells of good luck and money fill the house. The Christmas tree in the neighbor’s window lights up. It was a quiet day. I blame my tears on the rain. Amber lamp light, reflected in the glass, soothes me.

Frost in the Rain

view from the parking deck

view from a parking deck near campus

Evening classes at GSU were canceled today, due to all the rain we’ve had in metro Atlanta. On my way home I drove through inches of rain pooling on the surface of the highway. The cars in front of me sent fountains of water out from under their tires, and some drivers had their hazard lights on. Most people used their heads and drove slowly, but blue police sirens flashed every mile or so from accidents. It’s scary enough driving on Atlanta highways without having to worry about hydroplaning.

We’re still reading Robert Frost in my American Poetry class. For the test the professor is going to give us eight quotes. From the quotes we have to identify the poem, and then write an essay in which we illustrate everything we know about the poem in question. I’m going to read the poems, internalize them, and let fate take care of the rest.

We’ve been having bad weather in Atlanta for a half a week now. Last Thursday, just as the professor was reading Frost’s poem Once by The Pacific (West Running Brook, 1928), a storm swept in. As I looked out the window, Frost’s lines narrated what I saw:

The clouds were low and hairy in the skies

like locks blown forward in the gleam of eyes.

According to the professor, one day when Frost and his mother were on the beach in San Francisco, a huge storm hit the coast. The event terrified Frost, and stayed with him all his life. He started writing the poem when he was 18, at Dartmouth, but didn’t finish it until he was much older. The two lines I’ve quoted above are the only two that remain from his original poem. He certainly was a clever 18-year-old to have come up with the image of the hairy clouds and the locks blowing forward.

But we missed our class tonight. That means another week of Frost after this one, unless Dr. S decides to excise of few poems from the list. Next up is Edna St. Vincent Millay.