In this final poem reflecting on the hardship of my couple years, I talk through the messiness of messiness and the value of a trusted counselor. When it’s hard to laugh, when small talk takes great effort, when you’re afraid you’re too much of a downer or a burden, when all you want to do is talk about what happened except that you don’t even know how–all of these sticky, messy feelings in the aftermath of a difficult life event can be found in this poem. I did what can be difficult to do–I sought counsel. And my counselor gave me permission to cry and to talk, to be messy and unfixed, to come to the end of a session knowing well it was not The End. But I wasn’t too much for her. Counseling was the best thing I did for my soul. This poem is dedicated to Lyndsay, my own personal cloud expert.


My Rain Cloud
by Sarah Steele

My rain cloud is leaking
I try to place buckets
Strategically below
But then unexpectedly
There’s a downpour
The buckets are full
The sidewalk is puddled
And the innocent passersby
Are sopping wet
I apologize
And shake my head
And place No Walking signs
Around the perimeter
Most of the walkers obey
A couple step in on accident
And feel the leaky drip drop
Drip drop
Drip drip drip drop
They look up at the cloud
And it shakes under the weight
Of the water it fears to release
Please go, it begs
Please follow the signs
They throw up their umbrellas
Embarrassed to have witnessed the struggle
Of a weak cloud
That fills too quickly
I step back in to plug its holes
To wrap some tarp around its edges
But it bursts again
The tarp holds it away from the sidewalk
But it slowly pours out
Onto the surrounding grass
I try to distance myself from the cloud
Pretend it doesn’t belong to me
Still keeping an eye out
To keep others safe and dry
I call a cloud expert
To diagnose the issue
I want to discuss it
Outside the Wet Zone
But she steps in
And looks up
And talks to the cloud
My cloud looks at me, confused
No one ever talked to him
Or asked him questions
Or encouraged him to leak
He holds himself a little tighter
She seems too kind to get wet
But she stays
And stays
And stays
And eventually my cloud begins to shake
I stand back
Knowing and afraid
Until it releases its torrential rain
But she doesn’t run away
She isn’t afraid
Or confused
Or disappointed
With outstretched arms
She begins to spin
And twirl
And dance
Do I try to stop it?
Try to block it?
Push her out to keep her drier?
My cloud heaves
And releases the next layer
And the next
And the next
Until the rain is no longer in the cloud at all
But is pouring down straight from the heavens
Right through its thin puffy frame
And the cloud expert keeps up her dance all the while
Encouraging my cloud
And the rain
And the storm
I have never danced in the rain before
I have run away
Grabbed protective gear
Dashed through to get to my car
But never stayed out there
On purpose
To just be
I place my hand inside the Wet Zone
And withdraw it to survey the damage
But it doesn’t hurt
It is just wet
So I place two hands in
My arms follow
A foot
And a leg
And before I know it
I am surrounded
It is warmer than I’d expected
Softer, not piercing
I begin to twirl
To move with the rhythm of the downpour
A laugh escapes through my lips
I try to silence it
But it is unavoidable
I feel joy!
Not fear
Not embarrassment
Not shame
We dance there
The cloud expert and I
Until the rush slows to a
Drip drip drop
Then a drip drop
She embraces me
Wet and dripping
Without apology
And leaves
Offering to return
If he ever gets plugged again
Gets plugged??
But I plugged him!
I stopped him!
I shut him up!
To protect the others
To protect myself
But protection doesn’t allow space for nature
For laughter
For dancing
I was the one who was hurting my poor cloud
I glance up at him
But he can barely see me through his beaming smile
I love to see him so happy
I love to feel so free
So I discard my signage
And let him leak
And burst
Whenever he needs
And I always stand close by
So I can join him
And dance
In the rain