Gifts Like Rain


Flawless was only the niece.

People’s attention went to the gestures

and wry expressions of Cousin Bernice,

Cousin Bernice whose four last names

each flaunted a husband, some Henry or Frank,

and whose frankfurter arms and beach-ball breasts

were always in motion while Flawless

perched stiff on the slat-backed chair

her knees pressed tight together.


When Great Uncle Alex came back from his travels

with suitcasefuls of mysterious packages

from Africa, China, New Guinea, brazil,

which he scattered about with a brazen air,

Flawless arose form her slat-backed chair,

morose and slow.  She circled the room

to distribute the presents, her eyes acquiescent,

and her knees whispered “nylon” to each other.


Grandmother got roses, Sissy a frog,

Bernice a babushka, and Flawless received

a fuzzy golden Pekinese pup,

the point here being that siblings and such

may differ in experience, like Flawless and Bernice,

but the rewards, ah, the rewards,

future heirlooms springing from the same exotic source

and seeming to fall by chance like rain

indeed do not.  This is a truth that needs emphasis.


Jean Esteve