Tributaries, The New Nature: “On Monsoons”

By Oliver de la Paz

1. I said to him, “Look at the rainbow.”

2. We were walking and the road ran parallel to the light.

3. Because it was hot we knew about storms.

4. In my country, when it is stormy all the pots come out of the kitchens.

5. I let go of the fantasy that colors would appear if I squinted and looked at the sun.

6. Here there are no words for this—the double rainbow. The rain and the sun simultaneously.

7. Sometimes the fish would come to the road.

8. The children would gather them up in their shirts.

9. All day their bodies would glisten from scales.

10. I was taken by the mouths opening and closing for air.

11. Desperation is duplicable—we would hold our breaths and act like swimmers thrashing to breathe.

12. So many streams would have to be crossed.

13. Streams of this sort are impermeable.

14. Streams are metaphor.

15. I dreamt my son had walked the roads of my childhood holding an umbrella over his head.

16. Neither the sun nor rain could ever pierce it.

17. Water filling the pots along the alleyway in time to the rain beating on the cloth of the umbrella.

18. The petrichor, a sudden topic of conversation.

19. Many naked bathers beneath the eaves.

20. The rain snaking down their torsos.

21. We enter the vapor of the evaporating water.

22. We breeze through it, in a hurry.

23. Storms are a metaphor.

24. Children are metaphors.

25. There is a bright nimbus through the opacity of clouds.

26. I was watching the air between my child and my mouth filled with inscrutable waters.

27. The pots are musical because they are in unison.

28. Simultaneous clatter. The pots and the palpations of rain against an umbrella.

29. One day there were fish and the next they were taken back to the sea.

30. The light, which had been pursuing us all day amplified the pooled water.

31. Liquid on liquid became a coalescing theme.

32. And then we emerged.

Oliver de la Paz is the author of four collections of poetry, Names Above Houses, Furious Lullaby (SIU Press 2001, 2007), and Requiem for the Orchard (U. of Akron Press 2010), winner of the Akron Prize for poetry chosen by Martìn Espada, and Post Subject: A Fable (U. of Akron Press 2014). He is the co-editor with Stacey Lynn Brown of A Face to Meet the Faces: An Anthology of Contemporary Persona Poetry (U. of Akron Press 2012). He co-chairs the advisory board of Kundiman, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the promotion of Asian American Poetry and serves on the Association of Writers and Writing Programs Board of Trustees. A recipient of a NYFA Fellowship Award and a GAP Grant from Artist Trust, his work has appeared in journals like Virginia Quarterly Review, North American Review, Tin House, Chattahoochee Review, and in anthologies such as Asian American Poetry: The Next Generation. He teaches at the College of the Holy Cross and in the Low-Residency MFA Program at Pacific Lutheran University.