remember: the deluge
A week’s worth of heat had just been lanced and what was relief now turned to deluge. No warning and now everywhere a waterfall. This street Iguazu. Turn the corner Victoria. Further on Niagra. Days before had been like this, with evening spikes in humidity, but then – nothing. Each day ripened, sweltered. Each night unplucked. Cursed.
Now, shouting down in sheets. Erupting. Vomiting.
So then let it come down, drenching. We are exposed. We are not made of salt.
The roads went from desert to deserted. Flash flooded. Pressure and temperature free falling, racing the rain down. Bikes brake mid- stream dawn plastic parkas and clear off quick. It is coming down too hard for all but the stranded and the taxis, the lights of which hit the pooling gutters like searchlights on a seaplane or a swift boat. Brightest silver, blown out beams, too much contrast here, as if trying to look deep beneath a flat surface. Beams that moved quickly, swooping, saying I’m coming I’m Here I’m gone.
The lightning was here and gone too, in staccato flourishes. The heavens flashing code. Signals echoing back off thunderheads. Two cloudships deep in conversation. Thunder a no-show: there is no percussion, no punctuation. Delayed, like so many trains.
Then suddenly the entirety of the moment. The flash, the cordite, the tearing of the heavens. Like the life-spark in a laboratory, or the shock of forbidden flesh in the corner of a boy’s eye. Blinding, burned into the iris.
The cafes and restaurants were all open and the conscientious ordered out of courtesy to remain at their tables. Sorbet. Tiramisu. Another glass of white. Another round of this.
she slips her bamboo and basket scale and goes inside the lunch spot. she finds a plastic chair, the small plastic chairs that are vietnam, the kind that have foreigners sharing head space with their knees, and she brings it back out for the old man. he slides to sit, and she squats near him. together, they are both no more than thigh-high to a pedestrian, and they move slowly in their own space while the motorbikes rush frantic and self-absorbed. you lose his face in his helmet when he brings the bowl up to eat the rice. you could lose this picture of the two just by thinking of something else. it is precious or unspectacular - like so many other instances of life being art - and available only to the voyeur or those who search to prove their faith in the wonder of the calm within the human storm. these two, nearly invisible, have emerged from the wreckage, from the curse of living in interesting times.
The summer. You drive down the artery in the old quarter, flanked by endless t-shirts, looking up at the clouds closing over the evening light. The sky can easily be divided in two, in gold and grey, and the wind that precedes the storm begins to blow the dirt of the street and the buds off the flowering trees into your eyes. When the wind blows like it does, it seems like the noises of the street are rushing into you: The horns are thrown at you, around you, and the broken conversations dart past your head as if blown from one of the long bamboo poles that dance on the shoulders over the backbones of the city. The sound is more appropriate this way: it travels the way you do, and it interrupts the way life does here. It intrudes.