Translating the rain

A contribution to the Ecotone topic Places for Books.

Body of rain, I drink to you. Body of long grass & the dark edge of the woods. I woke up at 3:00 in the morning murmuring the words to a poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins, whom I have not read in years – O if we but knew what we do / When we delve or hew– / Hack and rack the growing green! / Since country is so tender / To touch, her being só slender . . . A gentle rain with crickets in it & the twittering of thrushes & warblers who have flown all night, in & out of showers, no stars to guide them. I went back to sleep on the couch with my head near the screen door, listening, & dreamed about a woman made of light whose warm regard turned the pages of books yellow, orange, scarlet, made spines of books crack & the covers warp. With a faint whispering their pages began to come loose and flutter down from the shelves in multiple reenactments of the myth of Icarus. I walked through dimly lit stacks chanting an LC call number like the name of a long-gone lover, shuffling through the fallen pages, which were already up above my ankles. This rain will go on for months. When it stops, the sky will reach all the way to the ground: an appalling brightness. We will squint & shiver, we will stamp our feet for warmth on the hard ground, swept bare by wind. Our fingers will itch for the feel of pages turning. Strained eyes will long for opaque surfaces, the darkness between the trees. Our skins will turn brittle. We will search like lizards for a flat rock in the sun.

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Dave Bonta (bio) crowd-sources his problems by following his gut, which he shares with 100 trillion of his closest microbial friends — a close-knit, symbiotic community comprising several thousand species of bacteria, fungi, and protozoa. In a similarly collaborative fashion, all of Dave’s writing is available for reuse and creative remix under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License. For attribution in printed material, his name (Dave Bonta) will suffice, but for web use, please link back to the original. Contact him for permission to waive the “share alike” provision (e.g. for use in a conventionally copyrighted work).

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