The Year the Rice-Crop Failed

by Melanie Drane

The year we married, rainy season lasted

so long the rice crop failed. People gave up

trying to stay dry; abandoned umbrellas

littered the streets like dead birds. One evening

that summer, a typhoon broke the waters

of the Imperial moat and sent orange carp flopping

through the streets around the train station,

under the feet of people trying to go home.

The stairs to the temple became impassable;

fish slid down them in a waterfall, heavy

and golden as yolks. That night, I woke you

when the walls of our home began to shake;

we held our breath while the earth tossed,

counted its pulse as though we could protect

what we’d thought would cradle us –

then the room went still and you moved away,

back into sleep like a slow swimmer,

your eyes and lips swollen tight with salt.

The next morning, a mackerel sky hung over Tokyo.

The newspaper confirmed the earthquake

started inside the sea. I watched you dress to leave,

herringbone suit, shirt white as winter, galoshes

that turned your shoes into small, slippery otters.

After you were gone, I heard hoarse and angry screams;

a flock of crows landed on the neighbor’s roof,

dark messengers of Heaven. Did they come to reassure,

to tell me we’d be safe, that we would find

our places no matter how absurd it seemed,

like the fish sailing through the streets,

uncertain, but moving swiftly?

The Poetry Society was founded in 1909 to promote “a more general recognition and appreciation of poetry”.  Since then, it has grown into one of Britain’s most dynamic arts organisations, representing British poetry both nationally and internationally.  Today it has more than 4000 members worldwide and publishes The Poetry Review.

With innovative education and commissioning programmes and a packed calendar of performances, readings and competitions, The Poetry Society champions poetry for all ages.

More about the Poetry Society…

Tweets @PoetrySociety

Poet Emilia Bassano isn't the only woman denied her place in the literary canon. theguardian.com/commentisfree/…

📢Work with us! 📢 We are recruiting for a part-time PUBLISHING COORDINATOR to start in May. £22k pro rata, 2 days/wk in our office in London E1. Looking for someone who ❤️ books & brings a strong spreadsheet game. Apply here: bit.ly/2CxtZcK #publishing #publishingjobs Retweeted by The Poetry Society

Did you know we often share free stuff in The Poetry Café? We've just restocked on #PoemsontheUnderground posters and #FoyleYoungPoets 2018 anthologies - come and pick up yours today! (But please don't accidentally wander off with the books we do charge for...)

test Twitter Media - Did you know we often share free stuff in The Poetry Café? We've just restocked on #PoemsontheUnderground posters and #FoyleYoungPoets 2018 anthologies - come and pick up yours today! (But please don't accidentally wander off with the books we do charge for...) https://t.co/oldgwmI3W3
test Twitter Media - Did you know we often share free stuff in The Poetry Café? We've just restocked on #PoemsontheUnderground posters and #FoyleYoungPoets 2018 anthologies - come and pick up yours today! (But please don't accidentally wander off with the books we do charge for...) https://t.co/oldgwmI3W3

Are you aged 25 or younger, or do you work with poets in this age range? We've been working with US poet Peter Kahn to challenge young writers to pen Golden Shovel poems. Check out the challenge on Young Poets Network and enter by 31 March - next... bit.ly/goldenshovels

Overripe in September they need to rest in the icebox, sitting with their bruises From Three Poems by Hannah Sullivan, shortlisted for the 2018 Ted Hughes Award #TedHughesShortlist poetrysociety.org.uk/competitions/t…

test Twitter Media - Overripe in September they need to rest in the icebox, sitting with their bruises

From Three Poems by Hannah Sullivan, shortlisted for the 2018 Ted Hughes Award
#TedHughesShortlist 
https://t.co/SZe1xrxwYK https://t.co/FgwMtj54UJ

How to Celebrate World Poetry Day - and ANY Poetry Day! Including @PoetrySociety PoetryCafe countryandtownhouse.co.uk/culture/nation…

This filmpoem by Chris Morris inspired by a Jonathan Edwards is a thing of watery beauty - dive in, ducklings. bit.ly/canalsong #artonthewaterways Retweeted by The Poetry Society

A late one from us for #WorldPoetryDay: This is one of the bronze medals that was awarded to the winners at the @PoetrySociety's Shakespeare Quatercentenary play and sonnet competitions, verse-speaking and drama festival #SBTCollections Retweeted by The Poetry Society