Monsoon Variation, No. 1
Heat stills the day and stops it. The dust has settled thickly into crevices, coating outdoor surfaces, stuck to flecks of petrified sap. The forest has gone without rain so long the veins of the trees have gone dry, and bark beetles worm their way among them. The blue of the sky is blinding. The ravens speak their own name for themselves. Silence.
Two small clouds appear and wander aimlessly across the sky.
They bring others, more substantial.
They begin to speak amongst themselves.
They grumble, flash testily at one another. The wind shifts.
The first drop falls like a hallucination.
The second, as if
hours later. Fine raindrops form wet circles on concrete. Hopes rise.
The rains retreat.
Now the first fat drops pelt the pavement in stumbling starts and stops,
splashing the sidewalks and soaking the sap; the raindrops build up speed and momentum
until the wet stains on concrete repeat rhythmically and connect, erasing the dust between.
Soon the rain is pounding overhead, suffusing the cool with juniper.
Neighbors open up the blinds, the windows, the doors, and lean on front porches, tank-topped, shirtless.
Kids run splashing down the streets.
The plants in the garden all nod in agreement.
The ravens gurgle.
Down below, the magic chord is struck.
Fat white grubs with eyes like small children
Monsoon Variations, No. 2
The highest layers turn the whole of the sky as dark as a bruise, purpling the mountains in the distance. Middle layers of pale grey nimbus are sucked into updrafts of warm air rising, shaping themselves airily, like meringue. Perfectly opaque cumulus descend to the underlayers, whitecaps in an ocean of gray. The clouds coalesce in a vast Western stormscape, hot air rising up from the canyonlands, hitting the pockets of cool roiling in the upper atmosphere, descending, delivering
Lightning stitches the atmosphere, razing the high hills.
Thunder resounds like the bombastic cymbals in a Valkyrie opera, cracking the sky like an egg.
The clouds come rumbling back with kettle drums, accompanied by a high, singing wind.
Wind chimes whip around and pull themselves loose;
potted plants are overturned on back porches;
flags flail furiously downtown.
The clouds boom laughter and confrontation and assent.
They hurl wind at one another and bend the treetops.
They open up the sky and roar.
Rain pounds the pavement, the treetops, the rooftops, the cacti. Rain floods the gutters and storm drains, frothing. It washes out the washes, turning arroyos to rivers, adding inches to reservoirs. The sustained downpour strips the paint off old sheds and rusted trucks. It deafens drivers inside their cars. It pummels the mountain in rivulets, and sluices the cliff face clean.
The trees in their smoky voices are singing, come rain, come again, come from on high, come down and drown the spark of fire, come rain…
The clouds descend to the mountaintops and the temperature drops. They let loose a rain of hail.
In the ground, fat white grubs are growing, crystallizing the mineral caliche. They fight their way to the surface of the earth, scale the sides of trees and houses and wait.
Monsoon Variation, No. 3
The garden has run to riot, spilling over the fence. The snails have traced their silver mucus trails across the flagstone path. The worms have long since come up for air, died and dried in the morning sun, and gone mushy again in the rain.
In the woods, the creeks are running, cutting serpentine curves of granite into singing cataracts. Water drums in stone chambers, ephemeral streams echoing the rhythm of rain, days later, as it continues to fall, into cool green pools hung with sunlight.
Tiny, speckled frogs cling to speckled boulders, bathed in spray.
Rare salamanders hatch from a foam of eggs. Sensitive creatures with three tiny fingers, they hold to the submerged surface, their larval fishtails waving, circulating in the current of their miniature, shrinking world.
Wildflowers explode like fireworks in succession, red speckled flutes floating in the forest, contested by hummingbirds whirring white noise amid twining blue morning glories, wild yellow snapdragons, and sweet peas, blushing pinkly beside the trail.
The cicadas launched today have cracked the back of their mineral carapace open like an egg.
They have emerged, wet and wide-eyed, giant green bugs with disastrous wings.
Now the sun has sucked the moisture from those tentative organs, rendering them rigid.
Now the cicadas have joined the chorus, those raucous maracas lighting up each tree in turn in a wild, dense wall of sound.
All of them, together, are singing, come rain, come again. Come crack the wild weather overhead, come again, speak and crack the sky.
Dig a little deeper, come back,
Speak the words the wind has said,
Thousands of unseen eyes are opening.
Life blooms from the molecules of the air.