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First rain in the new house—
walls passed inspection, but
who knows? It’s hard to trust
in bricks. Aren’t they just cut-up

mud, lashed now by spray
from clotted gutters? At
the ground, the water preys
thumb-deep. What’s happening

downstairs? Do I want
to know? In the old house
my mother lay upstairs
on the old flower couch

dying—that was a storm,
bricks battered, cracked,
shingles torn and flung,
foundation stones scattered

and returned to earth.
Rain eating at the walls
but not from outside, no,
not from outside at all—

and when I couldn’t stand it,
I went downstairs to where
the kids were playing Legos,
the sets I used to cherish.

My daughter, two, nestled
in the shallow well
where water drains, happily
clicking a few bricks

together, and apart,
and together, and
apart, building and wrecking
in one and the same

creative act, her face
bright with the dreadful joy
of angels. While upstairs
the rain, the rain that buoys

and erodes, falls
and softens every bond,
every tissue, ligament,
tie of flesh and blood,

gone. What’s happening
downstairs? I go below,
fumbling unfamiliar
switches. A sudden flood

of light. The concrete slab,
the white block walls, the whole
expanse that we imagine
finishing someday. And there is

a little water. Not much,
for now. I climb the stairs.
Sit at the cluttered table.
And outside, the rain.



J.C. Scharl is a poet and playwright. Her poetry has appeared in many outlets, including the BBC, New Ohio Review, Hopkins Review, and The Lamp. Her first verse play, Sonnez Les Matines (Wiseblood), debuted in New York City in February 2023.




Image courtesy of Emily Richards, via Unsplash. 

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