The Slow-Cooked Sentence


Rachael Conlin Levy
Photo courtesy of Ardent, Creative Commons

I can smell the rain before its arrival, its sweet, dusty scent riding the night wind. The temperature has dropped so I go upstairs to throw another blanket on top of my children and discover that my sons, tangled in their sheets, are fully dressed, down to their shoes. They had their pajamas on at bedtime, but have already changed into tomorrow’s clothes.

I can’t hear the rain on our roof like I could as a girl living in a trailer, so I go outside. Instead of the clattering of drops, I hear the hiss of dry earth and plant catching water, and I see drops on the driveway glow and fade like embers.

Nevada rain is a poker-table promise, and despite the trees effort to rip the clouds and release the rain, we’re losing this hand. Cloud and shadow dance quickly down the street, and in the darkness the neighbor kid walks home. She slips inside her dark house, leaving the door open.

All anticipating: The door for the next person. My sons for tomorrow. And me for the rain.


So, I’m trying my hand at prose poetry, today, “a poetry freed from the definition of poetry, and a prose free of the necessities of fiction,” according to Russell Edson’s 1975 essay “Portrait of the Writer as a Fat Man.” I’d never heard of prose poetry until Prairie Home Companion featured the poet Louis Jenkins, but, apparently, the form continues to elude definition.

“There are no rules except that it’s in prose—so a prose poem can be anything,” Jenkins told The Poetry Room in a 2000 interview. “You try to create an atmosphere—there is not necessarily any point to what you are trying to say. Usually I try to have a beginning, middle and end.”

Jenkins read a few of his poems on the May 17th show, and my favorite was Ambition. It’s still making me smile.

One response to “Waiting”

  1. I really enjoyed reading this, specially the first line and the sentence about Nevada rain.

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