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Philip Levine Poems
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Clouds Above The Sea by Philip Levine
My father and mother, two tiny figures,
side by side, facing the clouds that move
in from the Atlantic. August, '33.
The whole weight of the rain to come, the weight
of all that has fallen on their houses
gathers for a last onslaught, and yet they
hold, side by side, in the eye of memory.
What was she wearing, you ask, what did he
say to make the riding clouds hold their breath?
Our late August afternoons were chilly
in America, so I shall drape her throat
in a silken scarf above a black dress.

I could give her a rope of genuine pearls
as a gift for bearing my father's sons,
and let each pearl glow with a child's fire.
I could turn her toward you now with a smile
so that we might joy in her constancy,
I could bury the past in dust rising,
dense rain falling, and the absence of sky
so that you could turn this page and smile.
My father and mother, two tiny figures,
side by side, facing the clouds that move
in from the Atlantic. They are silent
under the whole weight of the rain to come.
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