Many lifetimes ago, it seems, my dissertation advisor recommended a book. He was in the midst of reading it and loved it.
It's a poem by Brandon Kennelly. He experienced a series of visions following open heart surgery (a quadruple bypass). He writes:
I saw a man made of rain. He was actually raining, all his parts were raining slant-wise. His talk was genial, light and authoritative, a language of irresistible invitation to follow him where he decided to go, or was compelled by his own inner forces to go...The man made of rain would not leave me until I let his presence flow in the best and only poem I could write for him...
This book or poem is a homage to the presence of the man of rain.
My advisor is a poet, scholar, author, and travels around the world to lecture. He is also a Jungian psychologist but no longer practices and is in touch with the world beyond this one. Whenever he recommends a book, I promptly buy and read it.
I love this poem. It's soothing, hopeful and written by a man who lingered in the shadow between life and death.
This is the first chapter.
'What is my body?' I asked the man made of rain.
'A temple,' he said,'and the shadow thrown
by the temple, dreamfield, painbag, lovescene,
hatestage, miracle jungle under the skin.
Cut it open. Pardon the apparition.'
'What is my blood?' I dared then.
'Her pain is birthing you and me,
the slow transfiguration of pain
into knowing what it means to be
climbing the hill of blood, trawling the poisoned sea.'
'Where have I been when they say I've returned?'
'Where beginning and end
combine to make a picture, compose a sound
reminding you that love is a singing wound
and I could be your friend.'