Monday, September 10, 2007

They Run And Hide Their Heads

I remember the way it used to sizzle on the corrugated roof.

Rain in the city is nothing. I love the sound of it still, but the whole place, from the scuppers in the parapet walls above, down to the pipes below the street, are only there to make it go away. It scours the street and washes away the children's chalk on the sidewalks and makes its way to the sea. It doesn't feed anything here.

I remember my father. He'd stand in that field, lean on the ash handle -- bought rough and made smooth with his uncountable exertions-- take off his hat, wipe his brow, and scan the skies for a long moment. I'd watch him and wonder what might rumble through a head such as his. If he spoke ten thousand words in his lifetime, I'd be surprised to hear it. I never heard them.

He was watching for rain, of course. A man with the fingers of green just coming out of the rows keeps his eye on the horizon. It's not a matter of forgetting an umbrella and having to hustle from the trolley to the vestibule. It's life and death.

"Be careful what you wish for." was one of the few things my father did say. He'd say it whenever anybody said something stupid at the Grange Hall. "There's no free lunch." would usually follow. Father knew about a sword with two edges. Everything has two edges on a farm.

And so he would scan the skies with that squint of his, born of countless days under that forbidding sun, and pray for sweet, precious rain. He knew that if it did not come, we were done for, and those tender shoots would stand like the headstones they were in his field. But he knew also, in his quiet way, that the thing he prayed for might wash us all away in a maelstrom. It is an odd thing, to earnestly pray for the thing that might save you, that could just as easily crush you like the bugs we all are.

Father and the farm are all gone now. I reach out from under the porch eave, and let the drops hit my hand before the city throws them all away.


MacPhisto said...

This was absolutely beautiful. Thank you.

SippicanCottage said...

Thanks for reading and commenting.

Sissy Willis said...

"Like the bugs we all are."

One swipe of the Swiffer, and we're history.

Cynyr said...


Wolf Flywheel said...


SippicanCottage said...

Thanks, everybody. I see you all noticed that many of the words were spelled correctly.