It’s been raining off and on all day. I can look out of the window and part of the sky is whitish gray and the other half of the sky is blue with clouds. The rain is coming in starts and stops as my keys mimic the cadence of Art Blakey’s “Sportin’ Crowd” so I’m keeping up a steady beat. It’s Friday, and I look forward to Fridays like I did when I taught for the better part of 5-6 days per week in Chicago. When Friday hits, I usually want to be dancing, cuddling with my man, eating some ice cream, maybe a nice dinner or a movie, or a trip to a museum. Today, it just seems like the thunder is grumbling at me. “Where do you think you’re going?” crackles the bellow inhabiting half the sky. It makes me think of Robert Hayden’s poem “Electrical Storm.”
There’s a softness in the air as the rain picks up its momentum. It gets louder, but it’s comforting. When I was a teenager, I remember my mother standing in the doorway of our living room, just within the screen door, as if she was savoring the scent of rain. I imagine the rain strikes like millions of sticks beating against the drum of the earth. The patter running a race like a chorus of excited hearts thumping against sternum. I wonder if it’s not just cleansing. Does water not just keep us alive, but exist to remind us of our own inner rhythms?
There is something to be found outside the hamster wheel, the smack of hand against hand, the trading of cards, being dressed just so, and even the fluttering of pages in books, that one consistent love. I feel it when the rain in the air settles in the hollow near my collarbone. Some sense of vibrant life that makes me like the rain, if I’m in a proper trenchcoat and shoes that don’t get soaked in cold. Being on a train and watching the water pearl its traffic on the windows is even a vision for introspection. I’d felt the same when I turned soil for my mother’s tomatoes in the spring and spread rotting leaves that I’d raked in the fall over that same garden patch months later.
I’m discovering that running for no purpose and missing all the cycles of seasons without appreciating their power is something I cannot do. I’ve always been able to keep working, but the extremes tend to diminish any energy. So, it is days like today, with some sunshine parting the rain, and no sweltering heat or frigid stinging air, that feel best. I’m not a fan of the rain, unless I like what I’m doing inside. Today, I’m just sharing this thought with you. Take a moment to breath and notice the rhythmic nature of water.
“Electrical Storm” by Robert Hayden
Collected Poems edited by Frederick Glaysher
God’s angry with the world again,
the grey neglected ones would say;
He don’t like ugly.
Have mercy, Lord, they prayed,
seeing the lightning’s
Mene Mene Tekel,
hearing the preaching thunder’s deep
They hunched up, contracting in corners
away from windows and the dog;
huddled under Jehovah’s oldtime wrath,
I huddled too, when a boy,
mindful of things they’d told me
God was bound to make me answer for.
But later I was colleged (as they said)
and learned it was not celestial ire
(Beware the infidels, my son)
but pressure systems,
colliding massive energies
that make a storm.
Well for us. . . .
Last night we drove
through suddenly warring weather.
Wind and lightning havocked,
berserked in wires, trees.
Fallen lines we could not see at first
lay in the yard when we reached home.
The hedge was burning in the rain.
Who knows but what
we might have crossed another sill,
had not our neighbors’ warning
kept us from our door?
Who knows if it was heavenly design
(or knows if there’s a difference, after all)
that brought us and our neighbors through—
though others died—
the archetypal dangers of the night?
I know what those
cowering true believers would have said.