fey and sudden and unholy

At the library a few weeks ago, I picked up some books from the sale table, at ten cents per paperback and twenty-five per hardcover. For those prices, I could take some risks; one of the paperbacks I picked up looked like the kind of urban fantasy genre that’s one of my guilty pleasures: Sister to the Rain, by Melisa Michaels.

I’m about two-thirds of the way through it, and I’m quite enjoying it. But the most pleasant surprise was the discovery that Ms. Michaels’ title is taken from a poem–a hauntingly beautiful poem–by that favored wit of literate gay men, Dorothy Parker:

Rainy Night

Ghosts of all my lovely sins,
  Who attend too well my pillow,
Gay the wanton rain begins;
  Hide the limp and tearful willow.

Turn aside your eyes and ears,
  Trail away your robes of sorrow,
You shall have my further years–
  You shall walk with me tomorrow.

I am sister to the rain;
  Fey and sudden and unholy,
Petulant at the windowpane,
  Quickly lost, remembered slowly.

I have lived with shades, a shade;
  I am hung with graveyard flowers.
Let me be tonight arrayed
  In the silver of the showers.

Every fragile thing shall rust;
  When another April passes
I may be a furry dust,
  Sifting through the brittle grasses.

All sweet sins shall be forgot;
  Who will live to tell their siring?
Hear me now, nor let me rot
  Wistful still, and still aspiring.

Ghosts of dear temptations, heed;
  I am frail, be you forgiving.
See you not that I have need
  To be living with the living?

Sail, tonight, the Styx’s breast;
  Glide among the dim processions
Of the exquisite unblest,
  Spirits of my shared transgressions,

Roam with young Persephone.
  Plucking poppies for your slumber…
With the morrow, there shall be
  One more wraith among your number.

“I am sister to the rain;
  Fey and sudden and unholy…”


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