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Summer Storm
Dana Gioia


We stood on the rented patio
While the party went on inside.
You knew the groom from college.
I was a friend of the bride.

We hugged the brownstone wall behind us
To keep our dress clothes dry
And watched the sudden summer storm
Floodlit against the sky.

The rain was like a waterfall
Of brilliant beaded light,
Cool and silent as the stars
The storm hid from the night.

To my surprise, you took my arm
A gesture you didn’t explain
And we spoke in whispers, as if we two
Might imitate the rain.

Then suddenly the storm receded
As swiftly as it came.
The doors behind us opened up.
The hostess called your name.

I watched you merge into the group,
Aloof and yet polite.
We didn’t speak another word
Except to say goodnight.

Why does that evening’s memory
Return with this night’s storm?
A party twenty years ago,
Its disappointments warm

There are so many might have beens,
What ifs that won’t stay buried,
Other cities, other jobs,
Strangers we might have married.

And memory insists on pining
For places it never went,
As if life would be happier
Just by being different.

From Interrogations at Noon  (Greywolf Press, 2001).
Used with the author’s permission.



Dana Gioia is Poet Laureate of California. An internationally recognized poet and critic, he is the author of five collections of poetry, including Interrogations at Noon (2001), which won the American Book Award, and 99 Poems: New & Selected (2016). Dana’s critical collections include Can Poetry Matter? (1992), which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Award. He has written three opera libretti and edited twenty literary anthologies. Dana served as Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts from 2003 to 2009 and has been awarded 11 honorary doctorates. Judge Widney Professor of Poetry and Public Culture at the University of Southern California, where he teaches each fall semester, Dana divides his time between Los Angeles and Sonoma County, California. Learn more about him at







Post New Comment:
Mary Lou Taylor:
Here's a poem I'll reread. Beautifully done.
Posted 08/28/2016 06:11 PM
Yes - a very big yes!
Posted 08/28/2016 02:41 AM
Oh, yes, what might have been. Your lines are gorgeous, Dana, and very smart and clever. Lovely poem. Thanks.
Posted 08/27/2016 09:24 AM
A lovely poem and memory.
Posted 08/26/2016 08:02 PM
Yes, loved it ~
Posted 08/26/2016 04:16 PM
Lori Levy:
Beautifully expressed memory.
Posted 08/26/2016 12:39 PM
We never know what memories will stay and return--a small thing, one night, a girl's arm on yours, the storm...yet is still resonates. Love the poem.
Posted 08/26/2016 10:31 AM
That made me tear up a little. What a lovely poem.
Posted 08/26/2016 09:52 AM
Gilbert Allen:
Yes, the ballad stanzas are both musical and emotionally moving.
Posted 08/26/2016 08:23 AM
I love a summer storm. I'm sure we've all had thoughts like the final stanza. Love the rhythm of this poem.
Posted 08/26/2016 05:32 AM

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