Saturday, April 28, 2007

There Will Come Soft Rains (Autumn Darbrow)

(Note: In Jennifer Semple Siegel's Introduction to Literature class, students are offered the option of rewriting a story, poem, or play in another genre. Autumn Darbrow chose to rewrite Ray Bradbury's short story "August 2026: There Will Come Soft Rains" as a poem.)

Tick tock, seven o’clock.
Breakfast is ready
In an empty house
Standing all alone, steady.

Tick tock, eight o’clock.
Time for work and school,
But the house is empty,
The air is calm and cool.

The breakfast is old
And discarded right away.
Dishes are cleaned
And put back to stay.

Tick tock, nine o’clock.
Robot mice come darting out.
It’s time to clean.
They do it with no doubt

They whirl around
Cleaning every spot;
An empty house immaculate
Not even a dot.

Tick tock, ten o’clock.
The sun shines now
On a city of ash and ruin.
This house still stands somehow.

The west face has been burned.
No pretty white paint.
Only spots here and there,
But ever so faint.

Tick tock, eleven o’clock.
The house is paranoid.
It waits for the tenants
To come fill the void.

It still asks for passwords
And inquires who’s there.
Nothing better come close.
It better not dare.

Tick tock, twelve o’clock.
A starving dog cries.
The house opens the door.
Its voice it does recognize.

The dog searches
For the long gone family.
It soon realized the emptiness
The house can also see.

Tick tock, one o’clock.
The dog runs around, cries,
Spins in circles, bites.
Then it dies.

Robot mice come flying out
And dispose of the dog.
An incinerator burns it to ash
As if it were a log.

Tick tock, two o’clock.
Bridge tables fold down.
Playing cards flutter out
As chairs sit all around.

Martinis appear
Ready to be drank
With egg-salad sandwiches
Sitting on the bench’s wooden plank.

Tick tock, three o’clock.
Silence still around.
No cards being played.
No laughter. No sound.

Food is cleared away
With drinks following, too.
Tables fold into walls.
Silence still seeps through.

Tick tock, four o’clock.
The nursery comes alive.
Animals on the wall dance:
Many different types, even butterflies.

Giraffes, lions, antelopes
Dance in brilliant colors.
Some animals move to the waterhole
Followed by all the others.

Tick tock, five o’clock.
Bath water falls.
The tub is filled up,
And steam the mirror draws.

Tick tock, six, seven, eight o’clock.
Dinner dishes come out.
Inside the study, a fire is lit,
And a cigar burns, patiently waiting about.

Tick tock, nine o’clock.
Circuits turn on.
Beds become warm
Thwarting a waiting, cold dawn.

In the study a voice comes alive
And asks Mrs. McClellan for a poem choice.
No reply comes back.
“Sara Teasdale, your favorite poem, then,” says the voice.

There will come soft rains and the smell of the ground,
And swallows circling with their shimmering sound;

And frogs in the pools singing at night,
And wild plum trees in tremulous white;

Robins will wear their feathery fire,
Whistling their whims on a low fence-wire;

And not one will know of the war, not one
Will care at last when it is done.

Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree,
If mankind perished utterly;

And Spring herself, when she woke at dawn
Would scarcely know that we were gone.

Tick tock, ten o’clock.
The house begins to die.
A tree bough crashes
through a window.
Cleaning solvent shatters over the stove. “Fire!” comes a cry.

Doors spring shut
As the house tries to live,
But windows are shattered open and
Oxygen to the fire the window gives.

Water falls from the ceiling.
Tiny mice try to help, too,
But the water reserve is empty.
The house is through.

Walls are burnt, revealing wires,
And voices cry out until the fire stops them.
The house falls down now.
It’s not even worthy to condemn.

As dawn approaches,
There stands one wall.
The fire did not get it.
This one did not fall.

A lone voice comes from the wall saying,
“Today is August 5, 2026.”
It plays repeatedly over and over.
“Today is August 5, 2026.”

LIT160 Introduction to Literature, Spring 2007

Published with permission

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