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In a Dry Year Thinking of Will’s Words
Grace Hughes Chappell

“The quality of mercy is not strain’d;
it droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
upon the place beneath: it is twice blest.”—

                                                       --The Merchant of Venice

two hours of rain
in the fourth dry year drops
upon this place beneath
half a dozen sword ferns,
hellebores, violets, woodruff
sweet, on all the small places
of this earthbound constellation,
thirst catching mercy’s fall; twice blest
we set down our trowel and rake
and from the porch, cool and dry, study
drop by drop from heaven exactly how
gentle, not strained,
mercy falls from out a summer sky

From Ten Mile Creek Almanac (Finishing Line Press, 2019).
Used with permission.


Grace Hughes Chappell says, over the years, she’s been a mom, a daughter, and a sister, has taken care of ‘things’ (house repairs, car repairs, relationship repairs), worked as a private tutor, an English teacher, a travel agent, a receptionist, a telephone book delivery-person, a house cleaner, a reader to the visually impaired, a caterer, a snow-shoveler, and she has written. Her work is widely published and she is the author of ten mile creek almanac. Grace lives in northern California near the Eel River, where she and her husband maintain a garden and an apple orchard. Her advice for a good life is be as kind as you can be (and maybe a little more than that), enjoy your family and your friends, don’t be a drag (laugh a lot, sing, dance, do anything that involves music), read a lot, learn to cook a decent meal, watch sunsets and birds and dogs, and—last of all—find something to do for which you have some aptitude. “You don’t have to be a genius,” she says, “just work!”




Post New Comment:
I likr this a great deal. Focusing lovingly on the details of the plants and then dropping back to name them a constellation was quite a striking and skillful way of reminding us that everything's connected. I also liked how you introduced the Shakespeare quote. It wasn't obvious or labored, which made it connect all the better. If an old lady may say this near the end of a long and poetry-reading, poetry-writing life: You, my dear, have some serious chops. Please keep using them,
Posted 10/01/2022 07:28 PM
Mercy and rain - both make such a difference to us!
Posted 08/19/2022 11:47 PM
lovely last four lines, lovely poem
Posted 08/19/2022 05:03 PM
Lori Levy:
Great poem and bio!
Posted 08/19/2022 11:01 AM
Wilda Morris:
Yes, we all need mercy, and need to offer it to others - like a gentle rain.
Posted 08/19/2022 10:24 AM
Rain in our forecast today.
Posted 08/19/2022 09:09 AM
Larry Schug:
I am deeply touched by the metaphor I perceive in these words. Mercy--we need it so badly.
Posted 08/19/2022 08:43 AM

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