Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Floors of Silent Seas

Photo by Carissa Gallo

The Japanese have twenty different words to describe rain.  Of course, as is in English, they have a word for downpour (‘niawaka-ame’) and sleet (‘mizore’) but unlike English they have three different words for varying degrees of a drizzle ('kirisame', 'biu' and 'kosame').  They have 'yudachi' which is rain that falls in the evening, 'kisame' (kiss-ah-me is how I like to think of it) drips from the ends of tree branches, and 'kaiu' is rain that falls mixed with dust and pollen. Seasonal rains also have their own words; there is 'samidare' that falls in the spring, and  'shigure', which is rain specific to autumn and winter.


Often, I have thought of my own emotions like weather patterns. Specifically, sadness, which is most like rain. It helps to think of them in that way since the weather is always changing, always passing. A sudden storm cloud mushrooms – the color of a bruise – and causes a curtain of rain to fall, in between your toes, against your bare legs, soaking through your knit sweater causing your teeth to chatter. And then, almost as quickly as it began, it stops. The only sounds are that of the gutters digesting water, cars whooshing past – their tires slicing through puddles and gravel, dropping into manholes. And I remember:

In St. Paul we sat on the window ledge of the high-rise on the 37th floor. From there I could see snippets of the Mississippi winding through the city. Above it yet reflected in it, the clouds moved quickly in bulbous formations. I could see the patches of city where they blocked the sun, causing shadows here and there. I noticed the areas, too, where they were not, where the sun spooled onto rooftops, between buildings, and into streets . It struck me that the people standing in those places had no idea that, in that exact moment, just a few miles away were others in the shadows unaware that others stood in light.


In the fall the crisped and curled leaves skittering across the pavers in the wind reminds me of the part in “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” when T.S. Eliot says:

I should have been a pair of ragged claws
Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.

If the leaves are sea-crawlers then the clouds are thoughts that cause the sadness. A use of the transitive property that my tenth grade math teacher might understand but ignore, wiping more chalk on her black trousers absent-mindedly as she gets lost in another x-y graph. “This,” she might think to herself “is a cleaner way to be.”

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