The First Time I Saw it Rain

I didn’t know what it was except beautiful
except fascinating
My mother tells me of how I wouldn’t sleep as a child
she and my father would drive in circles until I slept
giving silent thanks if it rained
She tells me that I loved to watch the rain
that I would reach out and touch it
then flinch at it’s cold

Throughout childhood the rain fascinated me
There are photos of me standing on the couch
just to watch the raindrops race down the window
I remember during long car rides
I’d trace the paths they carved on icy glass
and wonder just how many more would fall that day

In school, everyone would get upset when it rained
as in no time there’d be no evidence of our existence on the blacktop
our mazes and fictional worlds melting before our eyes
We’d have to start all over,
we’d have to start all over and I was thrilled
because this time it would be better

As much as I loved the rain
thunderstorms have always scared me
I’d close all the blinds
turn the lights off
and sit in the center of the room
I’d listen to the sound of the rain pounding on the roof
hoping that if I focused enough on that I wouldn’t hear the thunder
And if I closed my eyes
it’d be as if there were no lightning at all

“It’s just God moving his furniture”
My grandmother would tell me
hoping to keep my from crying
It’s been years, but she still thinks of me whenever there’s a storm
“Remember when I told you God was just turning on his lights”
She said over the phone last week
But what do you tell the girl no longer so small
the girl no longer sure that there’s a God to move furniture
or to turn on lights
How do you comfort her

When the storms became so violent that the rain fell from my own eyes
my mother would tell me to pray
When my dad got stuck driving in the storm
“Pray for his safety” she’d tell me
“God will watch over him”
But what do you tell the girl to do
when her own heartbeat thunders in her head
when her own steady breathing feels like a hurricane’s wind
threatening to bring her crashing down
Is there still a God looking out for her
even if she stopped looking for him

Jayla Tillison

Jayla Tillison (she/her/hers) is currently a Civil Engineering and Architectural Studies student at Northeastern University. She often performs spoken word poetry at open mics and hopes to compete on the CUPSI team in the spring of 2021.

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