From the recording Rain (THE ONLY WORD)
True story. The dustbowl from the viewpoint of the kid who grew up to become my father, who once told this story to my stepdaughter: "There was no rain there for seven years, so I had to describe it to the other kids."
You can't make up stuff like this.
One morning my mother said, “take the blankets and sheets from the bed.
Just before we cover the doors, soak ‘em all down good and wet.
Cover the windows too, so the worst of the dust won’t get through.
They’ll dry hard and black, be washed and put back,
But there isn’t much more we can do.”
And it wasn’t the same in Michigan
Though we left there when I was just five,
I tell all the kids of four, five and six,
Of what they’ve never seen in their lives:
Millions of drops coming down
Fills swimming holes deep, sings you to sleep,
And keeps all the dirt on the ground.
I have my own ground to sow. It’s next to the house, dug in low.
My father said, “that’s your flowerbed, if you can make anything grow.”
And inside, one corner is mine. I mark off the floor with a line,
Wipe down the walls as high as I’m tall,
Then talk to the kids one more time.
Sam thinks you might end up drowning, Jane says it could pound you flat,
Like buckets poured down from miles around.
I tell ‘em, “It’s nothing like that.
“It’s just rain. Coming down soft as a dream.
Sometimes for hours, drenching the flowers,
Washing everything clean.”
Every week, someone else gone. Every week we pass a farm,
All their possessions all out for auction on what had once been the lawn.
And the dust can ride on a sunbeam. It piggybacks on every breeze.
It’s lighter than thought, but it crushes the crops
And fills the air that we breathe.
Maybe I’ll tell my grandkids
Someday – if I get old –
How all the kid’s eyes opened up real wide at the tall tales I told
Stand under it as it comes down
With your head tilted up, your eyes squinted shut,
Tasting the drops on your tongue.