The rain comes like a toy boat
across hot waves of sand and beaches
itself on the shores of the dry time
where its paint peels and the rot sets in.

But while it floats, what colors
flash from its small hull, brave
among the browns and grays
of corn husks and spent peanut stems.

A toy boy knocks mangoes
from their branches; they fall
like raindrops or bombs
around him in the sweaty sand.

And the toy boy rides the toy boat
across the year, finally sitting
in the shadow of his sail, stranded
on a shallow bar, strangely real
among the choking heat.

Alice Pettway is currently teaching with the Peace Corps in rural Mozambique. Her work has appeared in various journals including The Connecticut Review, Keyhole, The Bitter Oleander, Crab Creek Review,  Lullwater Review, The Mid-America Poetry Review, Plainspoke, Women’s Voices for Change and others. Alice’s chapbook, Barbed Wire and Bedclothes, was published by Spire Press, Inc. (New York) in summer 2009, and she is a former Lily Peter fellow, Raymond L. Barnes Poetry Award winner, and two-time Pushcart Prize nominee.

This poem was written shortly after I arrived in Mozambique. There is a great sense of helplessness that comes from watching the heat wither the earth and the people around you. The people in my village call the dry season the time of hunger. The time when you dream of rain.



Copyright 2009