The Rainstorm

(5-18 August 1989) after Ralph Waldo Emerson

Cars in the opposite lane are wet and sparkling. Farther, they approach us with headlights on. My parents and the four of us kids are confined again in the DeSoto moving from Washington to Colorado or from Colorado to Mississippi, leaving no-longer-home for nowhere-we-know. The smell of earth rises from the fields. Suddenly one of us shouts it’s raining and four kids point fingers at the drops as though each were the first to notice. We are no longer trapped; we have taken seats at a movie we’ve seen before. This is the part where Dad waits for the rain to get the windshield good and wet before he turns the wipers on. The passing cars and trucks splash up the gray rain like waves crashing on a shore. This is the part where we stop at a truck stop and my brother can’t find his shoe. We race back to the car in the rain and argue about who gets to sit where. This is the part where we drive into the campground in the dark and it’s still raining. We crawl into the tent on our knees, shivering and damp, another ritual in an elaborate preparation. We don’t refuse the sacrament; the storm rains over us all night, blessing us as we lie together breathing.