Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Light Rain in South Philly

Rain. Light rain. Barely noticeable as rain, but that one sees the sidewalks are water-stained, that the rain has altered their color. If we look at them & say they are wet, others will know what we mean. They will be able, if they wish, to picture wet sidewalks, wet concrete or brick or paving stone or asphalt—picture them in mind, or perhaps the feel of it underfoot if you are a child & barefoot, or very poor & have no shoes or the soles of your shoes are worn through & your socks and feet are wet so what those same words call to mind will not be the fact of rain which your body feels & is all too real without words, but rather what you think of will be warm dry socks & warm dry feet--& isn’t there a kind of rule here, a rule first of all of mind & then of words—that we apply mind and words not to what is immediately before us, this dull gray light, these wet sidewalks, wet streets, light rain—but to what is absent, what comes to mind because it’s beyond us, as on the coldest days we think only of how to stay warm, of the fire in the hearth, of the warm stove, the hot shower that awaits us after we stomp the snow off our boots & open the door to our warm house at last, or how on the hottest summer afternoon we dream of a mild spring breeze, or long for brisk autumn afternoons to come—as even now among dry stalks of corn or walking over cracked earth weeks or months into a killing drought, this very rain, the sound & feel of it, our rain, the rain at our window, the rain that glistens on Morris Street, so slight in our mind as to pass almost unnoticed, is at this moment the obsession of someone, perhaps on the other side of the world, on another continent--thirsting for what they want & need & cannot have.  

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