Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Rain

The rain came through the ceiling, thick with particulates from the paint, the plaster, the wood, the shingle, and the dissolving tar above. The framework of the trellis underwent chemical and biological transformation, as it turned from wood and insulation into a wet slurry of hidden ecology. Insect larva and worms swam blindly in the woodwork. Eventually tadpoles crawled into the biome out of bird droppings, having survived the crude dinosaurian digestive systems. They evolved quickly into blind albino creatures, secreting strong poisons to protect them from the web-footed otter-like squirrels that had developed a carnivorous taste for underwater nutrients. Kingfishers circled overhead, battling the raindrops in search of prey.

Inside, the man had placed buckets, pots, Tupperware, bowls, glasses and cups to catch the indoor rain. He mapped it out. The original great stain had long ago become a ragged wound in his ceiling, it’s cracks bleeding into new great stains, which begat smaller stains with their somewhat predictable drips. The containers, filled with different levels of water, took on tones with each drip. He started carefully moving them about to create a soft dripping composition of sorts. The woman left him with his buckets and pans, as he spent increasing time in the back guestroom, his head to the floor like a Muslim, listening to his raindrop orchestra.

He slept there, waking frequently as each new drip found him. He licked the water off his face and drifted off again, listening. He came to desire no other food or drink, believing that the rainwater sustained him.

“Ah this bell has gone sharp!” he declared of one pot, and took a tiny sip. He called them his “rain-bells.”

He was of course quite mad, partly from exhaustion and starvation, but mostly from the frog toxins that had leaked through the ceiling. He started having visions, believed himself to be an Indian squatting in the rain forest, and saw his wife’s ever more brief and intermittent visits to the back room as an imperial threat from the white man.

“This is not your land! You will drown in the river!” He shrieked wretchedly. She left him.

Finally the rain stopped. It grew sunny and bright. The frogs hibernated, one with the spongy tissue of the building, while the adaptive squirrel-otters took again to the trees.

The man stirred from his stupor, realizing that the song had ended. He figured out how to stand, and staggered into the greater apartment. The refrigerator was rank with rotting things. He stomped down the stairs, treading on the pile of mail, and managed to open the door.

He looked less like a man than an animal, in his rags and blanket. He stared dimly out at the world, at the blue sky, at the sun. He would have gone blind if a kingfisher hadn’t swooped down and attacked him, pecking out his eyes.

--Dan Kilian

I Passed, But Then I Came Back: Five and a Half Song Review

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