Inspiration: Diane Ackerman

Hawaiian Storms
by Diane Ackerman

Do you remember that lush, dead-end road
atop Halualoa, where macadamia nuts grew
in rows tidy as a bank balance,
ring-necked pheasants barked hoarse threats
at passing dogs, and the ditches glistened with bougainvillea
blushing a hundred parables of twilight?

How the rain poured thick as honey,
as we parked our rented red convertible
and strolled through the downpour,
letting the sky spill over our faces.
O the sky dripped from our chins, as we tossed
a balled-up Coca-Cola can, playing catch
and singing spirituals in the rain.

It was the first day we were ourselves
together, and we sang in tune, drenched with life.
Rain and fog blued the Kona coast below
into a single long shudder; for sweet hours,
the world abandoned all its horizons.

“Listen,” you said suddenly,
stopping by the barbed-wire fence
along the roadside. A deep thick flutter,
as of thunder in mud, rippled for long seconds,
then six bays raced up a distant gulley,
their tails held high in long-division signs,
their gallop rapid, muffled and deep:
hooves of panic horses.

Ghostlike, they drifted in and out of mist,
stream rising from their flanks,
their snorts small white carnations,
as they tore like summer through the heart
of the field, and earth held its breath.

Stunned by the blunt fury of their limbs,
the mud-thunder quickening, and the sky
falling thick as grain, we stood,
arms wrapped tight around each other,
while the horses pranced, then bolted away.

That night, we slept side by side, without loving,
the rain opened all its trapdoors, O the rain
fell dark as fresh violets, and I wondered how the bays
would find rest, so fearful of bright storms.
Sometimes, when you stirred, I could feel
the muffled thunder of your heart,
too troubled for sleep: hooves of panic horses.


One thought on “Inspiration: Diane Ackerman

  1. When I lived in Ithaca, New York for a while (first as an undergraduate and then later when my wife was a grad student) I used to see Diane Ackerman and her husband Paul West at least once a week in the independent bookstore I worked in back then. They were a perfectly unlikely (and therefore perfect) pair. Diane was always full of light and Paul was always grumbling like oncoming thunder. Both wonderful writers, each in his or her singular way.


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