A Passing Summer Storm

The cracks shoot down through a watery curtain-wall, biting viciously at each drop as they ricochet from one to the other and finally to the ground. How clearly they can be seen and heard, how bright and loud. But they leave behind no proof—hold, maybe, the smallest wisp of vapor for every raindrop they dispose of, and the distant growl careening off the exterior walls of the neighborhood homes. An echo is not the voice that made it. The gleam of a star long extinguished can be seen as brilliantly as always until its rays have travelled their course. Time and distance may erase all but memories. Even time can wear down memory until nothing but obscure reflections, refracted and tangled caricatures, are left.

For a moment, though, it seems like nothing exists but the violent rain. Devilish winds tease the draperies and toss about the lighter objects of the room, not being fixed by much, save the gentle tethers of gravity. Again the splinters break the dark silence. The room fills with blue, then black again. The poor beast beside me feels the charge coursing through his bristled coat, as if each hair were a copper rod absorbing the ambient voltage. His eyes are wide, filled with the flash that had interrupted our unuttered discussion. His breath betrays his unease and he forces his body against mine. Not to worry.

These terms, violent and vicious and growling, this implication that the lightning pursues the rain with malicious intent, the thunder rolls over the quiet like a cannonade in battle, these are not accurate. Neither are those describing the pleasantries of spring days, the lazy blanket of a warm summer afternoon. The world beyond ourselves knows not these trivial distinctions of purpose and consequence. The rain knows only to rain—to converge in the atmosphere as vapor until the atmosphere can no longer hold it, then to fall, of its own weight, to the earth. Once rained, it is no longer rain, it then knows only water. The wind that peels the brittle, time worn shingles from the roof has no thoughts of where, nor how forcefully, it will heave itself. It proceeds until obstructed and, if not through, then around the obstruction. Diversions are of no concern to the wind, its direction is no direction at all. It simply blows until it is through, then becomes the air once more, to be breathed.

Perhaps, as my nervous friend and I lay awakened by this disruptive storm, it is we who are angry, violent. It is we who arrogantly inflict our humanness upon the world. It is we who look to it to, in the only language we know, explain itself.

Why do you blow the roofs from our shelters? For what purposes have you flooded our streets, burned our communities, toppled our cities? How is it that you so heartlessly tear our loved ones from us?

Hearts are yours, and your concern. If I’d a heart it will have been ripped a million times from me, by ten million hands with less regard than for a passing breeze. The cities, you’ve built them upon me, I must still move and adjust. I must respire, just as you, to live. It is no fault of mine that you’ve put up shelters in the channels of my exhalation. As for the damaging glut of my waters, I must apologize, for the rain knows only to rain.

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