Posts Tagged 'rain'

Exquisite corpse found in Corrales living room

leaf in water

We stayed up all night because of the fire and the hot ashes and the fear. As the sun was rising, I said to Carl, “Don’t worry now, now that we’ve got some daylight, I’m sure we’ll find them.” Carl is my neighbor, a decent fellow overall, although we don’t agree about a thing. He leaned back in his chair and yawned.

“Probably right,” he said, and gathered up his gear, put his coffee cup in the sink, and left without much more to be said. The ashes that cover a dry, brushy area during a fire hang thick in the air, straining the lungs and sitting heavy on the skin. For the next four days, we all roamed around, grey and wheezing, like asthmatic zombies. Then the rains came.

Puffing up mini clouds of dust, when those first droplets fell, some of us thought we might be dreaming. I did, anyway. If felt cool, wet and dry, heaven washing away the tarnished past.

I had an inkling, and I saw it in their eyes, too, that we might actually have some change in direction, that the powers that be might possibly have it in them to look kindly on us just for a moment, to give us a break.

The rain, at least at the beginning, gave me hope. It cascaded down the dry hillsides and filled the arroyos with the rushing cries of a herd of horses suddenly released from their pen in the clouds. The water frothed under the bridge, began to spread out beyond the edges of the wash, losing energy like a tired old lady at the end of her daily walk. The rain, too, began to tire, slowing in its descent, ambiguous about falling from the sky. Mischievous drops bounced on the driveway, splatting roundness turned flat. The imprint of envy left some drops small and unable to make an impression, impressionable driveways were begging for more, they truly envied the rain, fall, dance, strike, spill, evaporate, reincarnate full again, a cycle a driveway could only dream of from its flattened, squished and gray existence in front of the white two story bungalow.

As the rain fell, a child sat in the bay window and watched as it ran from the driveway into the street, gutters filling and running fast into some unkown adventure. She sat there for what seemed like forever, and must have fallen asleep. When she woke, she found she was no larger than a mouse, and that she was riding a wide green leaf in a rushing stream to who knows where. She reached into her pocket and drew out a small, unfamiliar book. “How to Get Along in Any Language at All, Wherever You May Be,” said the title page, and she opened it to see how she might begin.

“Chapter One,” she said aloud, and looked around her as she noticed that the rain had finally stopped and her leaf had come to dock in a quiet green yard.


This is an example of an exquisite corpse. It’s a collective freewrite project. Everyone in the group has paper. Write for a predetermined number of minutes (5 minutes per person in this example). At the end of that time, everyone hands the paper to the person on their left. Looking only at the last line, everyone continues to write, and then passes it on again after five minutes. Continue until the papers return to their original owners. Again, looking only at the last line handed to them, the original writer finishes the piece. Thus, each person has a beginning and an end, with all the middle pieces having been handed around. This one took 30 minutes to create.

Collectively written by Teresa, Rosemary, Jan and Mike (did I get that right, guys?)


Summer Triptych


Little baby with flyaway hair is dancing. White sheets on a clothesline and a tree with green leaves waving high to the big blue sky. Baby laughs and waves at tree and sheets and runs through grass to cool mud. A reel-to-reel memory and the baby has blue-green eyes, half on land, half at sea. We laugh and toss her between us. Then nothing and the film strip thwock thwocks at the end of the reel. Thwock thwock, thwock thwock, then the living room is dark except for the hard white light staring out the end of the projector.

In summertime, there are many smells. Smells of hot, melting tarmac, of laundromats billowing out sweet dirty laundry sheets and bleach. Hair burnt crunchy and dry, slightly green from chlorine and swim lessons. Chemistry smells lingering wherever blue pools light up at night. Steaming bright midnight, an abandoned inflatable chair rocking gently in the wee hours as the pool filter blurbs and billows, benign and protective.


Making do

Wish I had a shoestring. What do I have? Rummaging in this paper bag, I find a bag of Fritos, a dollar twenty five in change, and a book of matches. Making do. I buy a single cigarette from the Circle K on the corner of Solano and Hadley, sit on the corner in the hot July evening. I eat the Fritos and go back inside for a cherry lime slurpee. Then back out on the curb, I smoke the cigarette and drink the slurpee and my tongue turns bright red. A white Chevy Nova pulls up at the corner and I kiss the boy in the driver’s seat with my bright red tongue, which is still cold. Then I run away into the dark alley behind the Circle K and lose him almost immediately. Ten minutes pass, then twenty, and I walk back to the Circle K for another cigarette. They are three cents apiece. I now have a paper bag, 45 cents, and no place to sleep tonight. It is 1 a.m. and the streets are still hot. I can see moths and fireflies banging against the streetlight in the parking lot. I put the cigarette out and save the butt in an empty pack, then walk down Hadley three blocks, four, til I come to a small square park with a bandstand in a summer pagoda. It is the only building lit this time of night. The boy is there, waiting for me, and we dance a polka on the raised stage. There are still flowers in early summer, not worn and dry like everything else here will be by August.  We sit on the steps at the edge of the stage; we can both see the fourth of July from here, still three weeks away. We lean back and look up at the sky and the stars are fireworks, shooting up into the deep forever and bursting. Thousands of shooting stars bursting and showering the night, comet tails leaving a bright, trailing signature. We sleep in the Nova that night, him in the front seat sitting up, me in the back with a trunk blanket on the floorboards in case of a chilly dawn. In the morning, we drive to the Denny’s to wash our hands and faces, and order coffee, and fill my purse with crackers and jelly packets and a bottle of catsup for later. Then we go back to the Circle K for a cigarette, which we share. Later, we will either go back home, or find another place to stay, or do the same thing again tonight.


Be happy, precious five

Be happy, precious five.
Five fingers, five toes.
Five days in a work week.
Five acres, five dreams
Dreamt in a night of coupling

Uncoupling, dreamt in a night
Of sweat and a morning of worry.
The snow coming late, left early
And everything is dry:
Grass, air, trees, eyes, and dry is a crisp
Threat calling sparks from the sky.

I am counting on my five
Fingers, five toes, counting on
Rain, counting on clouds piling up over
There, over there, purple and heavy,
Pregnant like cattle in this late spring.
We are overdue, it is past time.
I am counting the days til the rains begin.

One. Two. Three. Four. Five.

Until then, I cannot afford to breathe. Hail Mary,
Hail Mary, send us hail, send us rain,
send us rain. One. Two. Three. Four. Five.


(Three prompts: “Summer” 10 minutes; “Making do on a shoestring” 20 minutes; “Precious Five” – W.H. Auden – 10 minutes.)

Georgia and Tom on the Oregon Coast


“You get a line and I’ll get a pole, honey, honey. You get a line and I’ll get a pole, babe. You get a line, I’ll get a pole, we’ll go down to the fishing hole, honey oh babe oh mine.”

Tom couldn’t help singing. Tom hitched a ride with his happy thumb on his way to Anchorage Alaska, where he intended to build an igloo and marry himself an Inuit girl, skin seal and harvest amethyst in the frozen ice caves of Siberia. Tom was a born entrepreneur, but a southerner too, at heart, and it got too dang cold for him just about midway up the coast of Oregon and he never made it to Alaska. Stopped in Gorgeous, Oregon, in the deep wet forest that runs along the west coast. For a year or two he lived on blackberries and fish and his hair grew long and shaggy. He slept too hard to snore, and was too unreconstructed to think about farming, or storing, or hardship.

Oregon is a fine plentiful place for people who don’t mind a little rain, and Tom got comfortable, although not soft. One summer he gave forestry a try, strip cutting a corner of the Kalmiopsis near Biscuit, but he found he could not bear to cut the tree people. There is more bleeding in a tree than he’d ever felt in a salmon, though he could not explain that to himself or the woman who eventually convinced him to put his shoes back on and get out of the tree. He became a spokesman for trees, a miner of bees, he cultivated honey, and made a little money. Then he planted gobble sum and toad willow and buddha fingers and poultry rhymes. He opened a nursery on the edge of a small state road where people who were not in quite such a hurry might stop and talk and buy a cold drink, a Yoohoo or a Sierra Mist. He sold plants and named them himself, as much the inventor of his own roadside stand as any other stepaway of that particular time and place.

The Oregon coast is green, wet, mossy, and cool. At one time (at the time of this story, in fact), there were not many signs or arrows pointing to particular destinations, and it was not unusual for strangers to lose their way. They might find themselves slipping from a long low road into an awning of dripping willows, lining the drive where Tom lived with his trees and the woman he eventually married. Her name was Berry, who stings the fingers and stains the mouth, but she was sweet on Tom and he on her, and this worked, out there in the small stone house where they lived together, with their bees, their honeysuckle, their ginger snap trail blossoms and their two-fingered lobulus marionettes. The garden was fresh and they grew herbs, and kept a few chickens, and wrote some books about living in Alaska and building igloos out of ice and amethyst, and swimming with polar bears in the melting snow waters of high summer in the far north.

Georgia liked to make honey syrup from the berries as they ripened. She made a blackberry syrup, raspberry, blueberry, mulberry and rye berry. Each one had a distinctive flavor and a color that was either natural to the berry or boiled in a colored honey blend to brighten them up. Tom smelled each syrup as it mixed, and measured and tested each flavor with nose and tongue and fingertip, looking for the combination that lifted the spirits and let them fly away out into the cool wet air, where smoke from wood fireplaces hung and ruffled in the cool breeze as the sun went down. The fireplace smell was ashes and fruit, and Georgia and Tom’s three big labs liked to lay there, slightly damp but warm throughout, to let the heat seep into their ribs when the nights were long. Georgia gave birth one time, then two, and Tom hung fishing nets along the fence on the deck where they sat while Georgia recovered. Georgia began to identify each of her two births from one another by markings, by sound, by temperament. She did this surreptitiously, quietly, on little padded cotton feet that did not track much into the house. Eventually, she considered naming the children, but by then they were up and ready to name themselves.

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May 2020