Near Window 30

Mississippi Rain

It is raining so hard, and smells like iron. You know that petrichore smell you get in cities whilst it’s raining? It doesn’t smell the same when it rains on grass. I feel like crying. Have you ever looked at rain and just wanted to be it? Able to go anywhere, constantly cycling around the states of yourself: ocean, cloud, rain river and back again.

There’s thunder hammering somewhere and the light in my apartment has dimmed so that I can hardly see. I’m listening to Haim, and I’m supposed to be editing a section of the book in which I imagine that I found my dad in a park once on a summer morning, and cried at the imagining. It’s a funny thing to be tapped into how you’re always feeling at the moment. I feel a bit numb to myself, otherwise I’d be locked in my own cycle of existence without escape. I could stand in this rain for hours, I wonder if it would wash off all that sedentary feeling of being inside, I wonder if a little bit of me might travel with it: Rain, to river, to ocean, to cloud.

The face in the mirror isn’t my own. 

The hands I write with don’t belong to me. 

I’m a shadow, a shade, a passing cloud. 

How did I make it here after all this time?

I imagine I was carried up the gulf stream by a storm, sent eastward by high pressure, and landed here like a forgotten train ticket left inbetween the pages of a book. Marks, MS – New Orleans, LA in between two pages of Light in August.

Is it spring or summer now? What is this storm? Have we crossed the boundary of the coming of the spring, and have i missed its passing through, like a freighter rather than a passenger service? 

Last summer I went to Oxford, Mississippi to see a friend and she took me to Faulkner’s house. All day, it had been raining that hot, fat, Mississippi rain:  big droplets falling on my face like finger tips tracing the outline of my cheek, rolling along the edge of my jaw. I’ve never seen rain like it. Not even this rain that’s falling now. 

Faulkner’s house emerged from a green/grey mist, embedded in strong smelling pine or fir like a dream. It was quiet, soft, like foot steps through undergrowth. Hushed. The rain that hadn’t yet met the ground pattered over roof tiles, dripped resolutely from braches, whisered itself through the gutters. 

In As I Lay Dying  he describes rain like this: 

 They are big as buckshot, warm as though fired from a gun; they sweep across the lantern in a vicious hissing.

I didn’t think rain could be like that, but here I was seeing it. A real thing, big rain, mississippi rain. I think it changes the way you feel about it, if rain is always big, rather than the tiny little needles that try to burrow their way into your skin and freeze you to the bones. 

Faulkner has another quote, too:

“How often have I lain beneath rain on a strange roof, thinking of home?’

I wish I were home. I keep thinking of the open expanse of my English Oxfordshire, resplendent in the May, the blossom coming in through the green, leaves newly minted shivering against the cold weight of English rain. In Paris the rain falls grey, like it would in any city. In Oxford Mississippi, and in the shire fields of my home, the rain falls green-silver into the landscape, mercurial in its affections.

I have nothing more to say today.

Just think of rain, coming at you like kisses, or like bullets, or like tiny little fragments of a world that exists without you, and away from you, and extended from you, and how lucky we are to be allowed to exist within it. 

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