The death of Bernardo

I remember a moment in fifth grade,
when it was announced
that Sister Bernardo,
who taught seventh grade,
had died.

There was this brief
eruption of joy that
we would not, ever,
have to endure
her legendary cruelty.
It was an utterly spontaneous, and
therefore uncontrollable, eruption
which collapsed almost
immediately into despair.

There stood, at the head
of the classroom,
Sister Mary Henry,
in all her indominable
forbiddenness, and we knew
that she had recorded the reaction
of each and every child
in her prodigious
and never-failing memory.

Red, red rain

There was a June when it rained
As it rained every June
Anyone could remember
All day, every day, every night

A rain so fine you could breathe it
So swollen you could drown
In the tall grass never knowing
Why, eyes wide and mouth agape

That June as wet inside as out
The earth heaved upward
As the rain kept falling
The sky without warning red as blood

I remember now, a voice was calling
“Come back through the long grass,
Come back through the red, red rain.”
But the red rain was you.

All there is

Is it possible to add anything
to a life, to ensure no alley
is left unexplored, no mystery
unexplained, no new device,

no diversion, no distraction
to hurry us along toward
the end of it all, the last
deceit, the final jest?

Shall we die wishing for one more
object, a last lunch, an unread memo?
Shall we panic at the end, unready,
as if no one had told us about this?