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Three Without Umbrellas

I see them while driving through flooded streets —
a tall thin man loping past the Y, head lowered, not pausing
for red lights; a large woman in sneakers at the bus stop,
swaying left to right; a young foreigner darting
onto campus with his folders, into the nearest annex.
Why did none of them pay any attention to the many
predictions? Was it habit or long indifference —
he with his drowned dreams, she with her stormy
turns of mind, that third with memories from childhood
of islands hit by hurricanes, rafts of refugees?
My green umbrella lies beside me on the seat.
I’d roll down the window and hand it over if only
I knew who among them might be deserving, who so loves
the hard, merciless rain that they would
rather give back the token, leaving me
as I am — on my way home, dry and covered.
by Therese L. Broderick
(An artist’s statement about this poem appears as the first comment.)

About ThereseLBroderick

Independent community poet living in Albany, New York USA.

One response »

  1. poetryaboutart

    ARTIST’S STATEMENT about this poem
    Fact & Fiction ~
    This poem benefited from the feedback of first readers RL, JH, JG, and MM. As I drove through the city one very rainy day, I noticed five people without umbrellas. I decided to develop descriptions of only three people, primarily because trinities have powerful cultural associations. The descriptions are embellished with imaginated details, althouth the campus and YMCA and corner bus stop are factual (I failed to write down detailed notes about the people as I saw them, and later could not remember the details). I do own a green umbrella. I also switched the sequence of people in the first stanza primarily for the resulting cadence. I choose “nearest annex” for its subtle evocation of emigration to a neighboring nation.

    Sound & Sense ~
    I practiced reading the poem out loud, adjusting word sounds and cadences accordingly. For example, I worked hardest on the sound and cadence of the last three lines, adding the word ”rather” primarily for its extra syllables. “Drowned dreams” and “stormy/ turns of mind” are figurations which I employ in order to correlate the people’s internal states with the external weather. I break lines after “stormy” and after “leaving” especially for the surprise of the first word on the following line. The statement that I am “covered” is, also, figurative : I am protected by the securities of a middle-class life. I selected the word “lowered” (instead of “down”) for how it sounded near the word “loping.”


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