Maddie in the Rain is the first of several Easter poems in Chasing the Dragon, but you might not realize that if you don’t know Latin.
The epigram, “Dic nobis, Maria. Quid vidisti in viam,’ is part of the Easter sequence of the pre-Vatican II Catholic Church. I really should have included a translation: “Tell us Mary, what have you seen along the way?” The question is addressed not to Mary the Mother of God, but to Mary Magdalen, who, according to the Gospel of John, was the first witness to the Resurrection. Her answer, of course, is “I saw the sepulcher of the living Christ and the glory of the risen one.”
That’s a lofty theme. But everything else in the two poems is prosaically true. A dove did build a nest in a tree right outside my window; I did call her Maddie, after the Magdalen; she did abandon her nest; she did fly away.
But she did return. We did have snow that Easter, and 33 did die in a mass shooting at Virginia Tech; she did perch on a twisted wire bringing electricity into my house; and she did stare into the face of a hundred-year Northeaster.
It seemed only normal to ask her what she saw in the rain.
I guess the point for me is that simple, daily things and events can be charged with meaning beyond telling, a theme I’ll return to in other poems like “Thin Places.” I suppose it lies beneath everything I write. It’s the old search for meaning, even though it’s all around us, if we only open our eyes.
By the way, Maddie did return the next two springs, but I haven’t seen her since. Still, I can wait.