I live with my two dogs on the edge of the university research forest, where I walk everyday and think and pray. I have taught at Oregon State University since 1986 and have been a Catholic deacon since 1987. I have written a number of books, including two books of poetry. My second book of poems, THE NEXT THING ALWAYS BELONGS, was published in 2011 by Airlie Press.
Why We Talk about the Weather
Standing in line at the coffee shop we all talk
about the weather, and it’s good that we do,
and fitting, and right. What could be more important
than clouds, or simpler, or more beautiful? Or the wind
or the rain? In fact, nothing is more important
than walking to the window and looking out at the sky
and remembering that we have bodies. That we live
and we die. This is why we talk about the weather:
because there’s nothing we can do about it.
Because the light, it comes and it goes. Because
the clouds are now streaming in and they are moving
above us, tearing over the rooftops and the trees.
To talk about the weather is to be in solidarity
with everyone else who talks about the weather.
We are all bleary, after all, and empty and dull, waiting
for our morning lattes, and who knows what waits
for us, down the long corridors and in the lonely rooms?
What indifferent voices? What flickering screens?
Moses wanted to see God face to face but God said no,
no one can see me and live. But here’s what I will do.
I will put you in this cleft in the rock, and I will put
my hand over the cleft, and I will run past you shouting
my name—I AM! I AM!—and at the last moment,
when I take my hand away, we will see what we will see.
This is why we talk about the weather: out of humility.
Because the wind and the rain are all that we can bear.
I am protecting you, and you are protecting me,
from our terrible loneliness. Our terrible grief.
Winter rains have swelled
the bed and now a river
roars beneath us,
down the tangled bank
where we rarely go,
surging and flowing
through the trees.
But how can I let myself
love this as I do, how
can I let my heart leap up,
when soon I know
the rains will pass,
the waters cease to flow?
©2016 Chris Anderson