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The Day He Reigned

by Jenny Hale Pulsipher

The day he rained
Was one ‘a them fed-up days.
The sky’d been growlin’,
Makin’ a fuss, and not
Makin’ a thing else.
No rain. Nothin’.

Like to ‘a kilt the beans,
Squash too, right near.
And the dirt got so’s it’d
Stick in yer skin
Like some thirsty tic, even
The weeds looked choked.

Well, he was here,
Sittin’ like you’re sittin’,
Starin’ at the sky
Like they’s holdin’ a war.
My land! His face
Was red’s a turnip.

“Somethin’ sittin’ wrong in
Yer stomach, Lem?”
I would’na asked ‘cept he
Looked mighty queer,
Like a kettle ’bout to blow
Or heifer ’bout to bolt.

I figured he
Was either gonna cry
Or spit, but that
Warn’t what he done, no sir.
He grabbed his gun
‘N arc’d it up

‘N fired at the grey heaven.
My! I
‘most dropped.
But that warn’t all, next he
Lit out fer the barn
Like I’s seen chickens do
—All flap ‘n no feet.

He was up top
By my next blink, a cursin’
‘N spinnin’ his arms
Like some ornery windmill,
As if the sky’d
Pay him a mind.

Then he let loose a grunt
So powerful
It shook that barn from peak
To core, and off
He flew till he warn’t no more
Than a dirt clod ‘gainst th’ sky.

This ain’t no tale.
Straight up! Lands, if I warn’t
Confounded. He
Looked ’bout pea-size fer a bit,
Then the sky up’n
Swallered him—whole.

It growled s’more, turnt black
Like he warn’t
Settin’ right somehow,
Then, with a snarl
It spat him out, musta’
left a nasty taste, that’n.

He got pea-size
Again right quick, looked like
He’d hit my barn
The way he ‘s a fallin’.
That’d be his end
Fer sure—chickens too.

So I hightailed it up
The barn ladder
(At my age that’s some doin’)
‘N pried a sheet ‘a
Tin roof off in time
Fer Lem to whoosh through—howlin’.

‘N howlin’ too
Rain chased down after him,
Fer all the world
Like grasp in’ fingers set
To pinch fer spite.
‘N Lem jest laughin’,

Smug’s a settin’ hen,
Wet ‘n happy
On the barn’s stack ‘a straw.
Ya mighta guessed
He broke some rafters down .
Didn’t seem to hurt much,

Leastways his grin
Didn’t look pained to me.
Well, I cain’t say
That rain’s my favert stuff,
So I dumb down
‘N asked Lem in.

The crazy fool said, “Nope.
Thanks the same, but
I’d ruther lie here ‘n smell.
The rain’s so sweet.”
So I went in myself
‘N let him waller in it.

Rumor got ’round
(Spread by Lem hisself
‘S what I’m thinkin’)
That Lem’ d incantated
That rain ‘n yanked
It loose from the clouds

By his sheer force of will,
Jest swung hisself
Up thar ‘n had a chat,
With them stubborn rain drops
‘N said if they’d rain, he’d too.

That’s baloney.
He mighta gone up to talk,
But sure’s sunrise
He didn’t come to no
Agreement. Nah.
That rain ’bout cooled him.

It was outright revenge.
I know Lem Drake.
Mor’n likely he took a stick
Up’ n tickled
The rain out ‘fore it was
Set to come. That’s like him.

So it set out
To git him too—only rain
Ain’t awful smart
‘N didn’t figure that
Its pelts wouldn’t
Count fer much. Shoot,

Lem enjoyed ’em. Cool ‘n
Clean like a bath
All the way down the sky.
Yep. When all’s said
It was a right good thing,
Jest enough to save the crops.

Funny thing is
Lem gave up the farm.
He got jittery
‘Most ever time he heard
Rumblin’ up above,
So he lit out fer

His corn ‘n wheat
Like skinny orphans standin’
In the cold dirt
‘N went to the warm, wet ocean,
Far’s he could git from the sky.