Bloomington has done been dra
Ain’t got no rain since August fav
The lake is down below the piles
The foliage is drought shock brilliant this year with hot mustard-yellow maple leaves flapping hard in the breeze as if they seek to attract the attention of passersby. Lipstick-red oak leaves struggle to stay attached. The ones that fail skitter down the sidewalk in awkward arches, pushed by the dry wind painfully scraping the rough concrete with their brittle points and corners making that sound they make.
Sometimes it wakes me up. In the middle of the night. I think it’s funny that such a quiet sound will wake me up. But it does and I realize I’ve been grinding my teeth and clenching my jaw again. A muscle just above my left ear sizzles and pops and I can’t get my teeth to align quite right. I sit up and place my face on the wall on the molding just in front of the window and with my left hand carefully pull back two or three metal blinds and they make a sharp tinkling sound and I feel the warm Indian summer outside on my face through the glass. I rest there for a minute watching two bright, pointy, reflexed leaves slowly make their jerky way through the puddle of yellow light cast on the white concrete sidewalk by the street lamp in front of my neighbor's red jeep and it’s all really quite beautiful. It sounds like someone is slowly fastening and unfastening a small strip of Velcro next door. I can barely place it but there it is.
I release the blinds and they pop back into place and I lie down into my bed and throw the covers off and pull them back on and place a pillow between my knees and finally fall asleep again.
The city told us to conserve water in late October. The Showalter fountain has been turned off and dirt swirls in the big bowl in the wind around stranded statues of fish. Every car is dusty and the grass crunches audibly underfoot and you can’t really walk on the grass without shoes because it’s just too sharp. Monroe reservoir is low and the eighty five degree late October days have delayed the fall turnover causing fish kills along the whole length of the lake. Fifteen pound hybrid bass float blazing-white belly up under the hazy autumn sun, swelling with the gases of rotten entrails until they’re picked apart by birds feeding in their fetid tissue.
Wells are drying up in Brown County to the east and it’s hard to find bottled water in the grocery stores. People are nervous and so am I.
Jet black clouds rolled and folded ominously over the landscape from the west. They seemed miles high and dangerous. The bulging black line stretched from north to south as far as the eye could see. Reports of tornadoes in eastern Illinois were on the news, but talk of imminent relief was too. The dog whined and whimpered as crackling, startling, tornadic thunder rolled through the town shaking the house violently. The gusting winds tore down the last lipstick-red oak leaves and strewed them about the streets and yards no longer slowly raking concrete. Tornado sirens wailed.
Then the rain came down in buckets.
The leaves were swept from lawns and roads and regained their elasticity and their youth in the soaking deluge. They flexed and flopped and spread their wings and danced in the gutters hand in hand until they found themselves pressed up tightly against each other in pliable arms of red and gold and were carried quickly in the runoff towards sewer grates where they were stuck and their embrace prolonged.
We found a patch of tall, succulent green grass next to the river so we laid down on our backs with shoulders touching for a while talking. The pleasant smell of broken chlorophyll surrounded us and she rolled over on her side and propped herself up on her elbow holding her head on her hand and caressed my chest slowly under my shirt and it felt very good. We kissed in the soft afternoon sunlight that sifted down through tinted window panes of robust, dark green mid-summer leaves and the land felt overwhelmingly fertile and healthy.
She stood up slowly and adjusted her shirt and tucked some loose hair behind her ear and whispered something delicately and bent over to kiss me on my forehead and turned and walked into the tall grass up the hill away from the river. I rolled over onto my stomach to ask her where she was going but all I could see was the tops of the long leaves of grass swaying softly in the breeze.
The rain abated as quickly as it had begun and the dry, crackled earth swallowed up all that was given to it by the sky. The relentless sun reappeared, the wells still empty.
The leaves began to separate and curl up in the tense, hot, dry morning after heat. They were awkward and found relief only in coming apart. The wind picked them up and passed them down the street, distributing them widely throughout lawns and parks and sidewalks where they slowly raked the concrete and woke me up again.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Bloomington has done been dra