augury doggerel

Monday, August 30, 2004

Rain Delay

Two holiday boys coax a pretty girl from her parents for a minute. They want to take home pictures of each other with the girl. Girl, looking down: "Should I?" Mother, smiling: "Oh... go ahead." Father, saying nothing, stands. The girl runs back to the boys, then an arm around her, a click, a swap, another arm around her, another click, and she runs back to get a start on remembering it.

Then two groups of boys cross at the same spot--everything happens here and nothing happens anywhere else--and girls are watching, so it's serious. One boy from each group comes forward. They circle and clutch, break and talk, circle and clutch, break and walk away, promise to see each other again.

Leaping for leaping. The older members of the herd have full sets of antlers and prominent wooly humps, but they only walk. You notice the pointless leaping on long skinny legs.

Rain comes and flushes out the canyon. The street runs. Boys in shorts and flip-flops slide on the stones. Girls in light dresses take off summer shoes and scream. Some kid somewhere through the rain yells "bravo!"

But that's a day last week when I think it's the last sunny day, and I'm wrong. Warm days will never cease. People today are stripped to their shirts, stripped to other people's shirts for all we know. A jazz band is bright and loud near the statue of Neptune. At the street vendor next to the cafe, apples and pears and cauliflower and bright red and orange plastic bottles of fruit drink.

A bee hovers over my coffee, no sugar, no cream, but a shining black pool of heat. The bee walks the rim of the cup, walks down into the steaming crater, then rises. Two beggars come round the tables. They, too, hover while the weather holds.

A crack of thunder. A seagull saying aw-eee ow-ow-ow-ow ow-ow-ow-ow. Then rain again. This is hard rain. Gutterspouts bursting. Things floating past. Things coming through the door. A man in a limp sombrero. A tour of retired Germans. Miss Asterisk 1987 and possibly the veterinarian.

And it stops, and just as it all stops, before a single German tourist can shift a prominent wooly hump, a beggar appears and asks for change. Then beggar whistles to beggar, the two meet, and they move up opposite sides of the street together ahead of us amateurs.


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