Over and Above

Jennifer Grotz


Because I didn’t want it to end, 
and because I was all alone again,
because in those seasons attention 
was my only form of prayer, 
I attended the summer rain. 
When it pelted the lake like fingers 
across a keyless piano, I attended 
the fingertips’ perforations on the soft surface.
Inside a theater of quiet the trees made, 
permeable, though, at least studded 
by bird song, I attended the mosquitos 
floating like eyelashes in the thick air. 
And before turning back from the lake’s edge,
needing to confirm it still so, 
I wrapped my hand around a cattail 
and squeezed: spongy and veloured 
as an espresso-soaked ladyfinger.
I grew in those seasons, said Thoreau,
like corn in the night. They were 
not subtracted from my life, but so much 
over and above my usual allowance. 
Sometimes I imagined the rain was also 
attending me, that I was its interlocutor. 
It had been born, it seemed to say, 
like any living thing, from certain 
right conditions, it had gained force 
as it grew and persisted to stay alive.
And the rain could pray harder
than me. It continued even when 
I stopped listening, then started again. 
That is how seconds, minutes, a whole 
afternoon would spill out until there was neither 
forward nor back only this other 
kind of now, over and above, this thick 
haze of humid heat gauzing the distant trees.


Jennifer Grotz’s most recent book of poems is Window Left Open. Everything I Don’t Know, the selected poems of Jerzy Ficowski co-translated from the Polish with Piotr Sommer, is forthcoming from World Poetry Books.

Image: “Closeup of the broken piano in the old school” by shixart1985. CC BY 2.0.