by Annie Dillard
from Tickets for a Prayer Wheel, 1974
There's always unseasonable weather.
Remember the flood that killed father:
when the water went down, the chickens
lay muddy and drowned. Oh we watch
the weather here on earth; we don't forget
the winter days when girls wear cotton dresses,
the Aprils when the bushes sag with snow.
We were cutting the apple trees back
when he said, "Look, it's snowing";
but I'd seen a winter of snow
and knew that more were coming.
Still, what do we know of a season?
Only father could say
when the rain would stop at the mountain
or ruin the hay. I'd try to watch
the hawks or lick a finger,
and the crops were still a failure;
there was frost all over the valley,
south as far as Twin Hills.
He kissed me when the shadows were long
on the path to the orchard; he promised
to meet me again when the apples were in;
now when the wind parts the curtains,
now in the city when the cat won't come,
I sleep with only one eye shut,
keeping a weather eye out.