Today the rain speaks in French, the French I failed to learn in high school. Also, the French I failed to learn in college. Also, the French I failed to speak in Paris. Also, the French I failed to speak in Lyons. Also, the French I almost spoke in Marseilles. The rain knows every language. Sometimes it comes down in Russian, sometimes in Mandarin, and often in Navaho or Lakota. Frequently it pours Spanish, sometimes trickles German, occasionally drips Swahili, although with an obnoxious British accent. I don’t speak, understand, write, or lip-synch any of those languages. And I don’t speak, read, or write any language well enough to compete with celestial incantations. The rain speaks in French because French pleases the sky this morning. Maybe tomorrow a clear day will produce, in place of speech, a high-pitched buzzing the neophyte might mistake for a cicada. Or maybe a dry but cloudy day will trill like a harp, uttering a few sharp phrases to rumple the dust.
Approaching from another angle, I find you as snide as an expensive leather handbag. And your hide is even tougher. How can you conceal yourself in silks and linens most women can’t afford, yet offer yourself on the altar of good intentions where the axe-man lurks? The days bubble and froth in rainbow hues. The newest skyscraper leers like something too raw to describe. You hope to lease an entire floor with a brokerage; the way the Hittites founded Troy. But did they? If not them, who? Once upon a time your Greek and Latin earned you prizes in school. The brightest girl he’d seen in years, our principal claimed. But a fat embolism felled him, and we heard the crash halfway around the world. Yes, we slathered over rolls and latte in a certain café, and then we split like the atom. Too bad we survived the blast. But approaching from this angle, I catch you sneering into your gazpacho. Every wrinkle on our well-worn face responds to stimuli, but I refuse to provide you your favorite laughter: my hands shaking like castanets, my lack of smile affixed.
Wherever I sit the ants find me. I’m sick of their sloppy punctuation, their prickly voices, congealing like snot. Here in the park by the river, the birdsong censors the racket of children trying to pull down each other’s pants. Their mothers sigh that musty suburban sigh that made me what I am. The ants trickle over my hands as I write in my notebook, the one I save for my favorite fictions. The mothers assume I’m a pervert eager to subvert their children, but they can’t be bothered to worry. Their faces have already eroded like Oklahoma farmland. Their children, already nastier than their parents, scream with glee as they expose each other’s pink or buff-colored rears. I expect the ants to explain everything. They form long scraggly lines of text, but their grammar eludes me. I write as hard as I can, but the orange covers of my notebook look so clownish I feel like the village freak. The ants sense my discomfort. They swarm all over me, but they aren’t fire ants; they don’t bite, merely tickle. If I listen closely, those barbed little voices seem human or at least compatible with the human, the last of the living scriptures.