In her own words...

"Rain of Blood, Aix-en-Provence"


Toward noon, July 1608.
No light, or hardly. Hebetude lay
like a membrane on cobbles
and casseroles, on bread dough
                                                                  like sin itself
in halfhearted concupiscence
with saturated time, conjuring
the stroke of noon, gleeful enemy
of toil, before the coup de rouge,
                                                                  A drop fell.

                  But — so deeply red —
                  some wounded petal from
                  a window ledge?

                  Came a second one,
                  stigmata on a fustian sleeve,
                  crimson rain, yes, blood,

God's tears, His oceanic repugnance.
So their curate spoke, watching
his abject flock implore heaven's mercy
                                                                  on their souls.

Then one man, Pierese by name,
a fantasist, unpopular,
a flea under the soutane:
"Your miracle is butterfly merde."

Flammarion tells it straight:

                  A swarm of butterflies,
                  leaving tree and field
                  rose in clouds; their red
                  droppings spread panic
                  on the town of Aix

O storm of powdered silk
too high to see, you swarmed
halfway round the world
                                           from where — to where?

Nabokov's beloved nymphalid,
lepidoptera, hairy worm,
                  true to your discipline
                  as if obeying
                  an ordained
                  choreography of
                  sublimity in transit.

Citizens of Aix! look no further.
Your souls evanesce above you, scarlet
                                           tears of miraculous shit,

                  prodigy enough
                  for Monsieur Pierese
                  (who, by the way,
                  beat everyone at chess).


About this work

“Rain of Blood, Aix-en-Provence” was first published in The Gettysburg Review, Vol. 15, no. 3 (Autumn 2002), pp. 418-419.  It is also included in Dorothea Tanning's book, A Table of Content: Poems, New York: Graywolf Press, 2004, pp. 50-51, and may not be reprinted without the publisher's permission.