Lawrence Ypil

Writing Rain

When I think of rain, I think of writing. When I think of the months, June, July, August, when the rains start, and the typhoons come, leave, storms start, stop, gutters fill with water, water levels rise and then recede, I think of the days and nights of writing. I think of the hours whose distinct pleasures lie in staying indoors, sitting on a chair at the desk by the window writing.

I wonder if it has to do with the sound the rain makes upon roofs—the closest one gets to monsoon music, typhoon tempo: shower or downpour, onslaught, unrelenting or brief: patter. Who will not want to write a poem to such music, if not on the page then in the head; if not in the head then in the ear. Or the finger.

These must be the months when letters get written, stories get told, when novels get planned if not written, when songs get sung to oneself or to lovers. The year stores up its hearts during this time, enough to last the barren months when rooms are too hot to think in. When it rains, thoughts gather in the mind’s holes like puddles: splish, splash.

When it rains, there is time, more than enough: after dinner, before dawn. When everyone’s about to sleep, when everyone’s not yet awake. Solitude is suddenly possible when it rains, minus the loneliness. One can hear oneself when it rains without having to speak.

Are there crickets when it rains? Moths, yes. That hide under red towels. A centipede strays into the tub. If one is lucky, a garden snake that’s found its way out of the garden. But that is getting rarer and rarer.

In which tree’s branches do birds wait in when it rains? One is always planning to find out, but one always forgets the moment the rain stops. The rain has more questions than answers and likes to wonder.

I don’t know what I like more: the rain that takes a whole day to build itself before it pours, or the rain that appears out of nowhere. The rain that fades away to a soft drizzle or the one that stops as abruptly as it starts.

I wonder if I prefer that rain that comes with lightning and thunder, that wakes the youngest child in the night, or the rain that hardly leaves a trace on the windshield.

Sometimes the rain does not stop, and gutters turn into rivers, and streets into streams, and mountains bleed down into their valleys and cover rocks and trees and houses and the people that live in houses and the water level reaches the roofs, the height of electric poles and birds that sit on them in sunny days but not today, today, the birds are nowhere to be found. But I try to avoid thinking about this. (I plan to extend this section to really give that sense of flooding.)

Besides, the rain never really likes to think about itself. It likes to think of rains of years ago, or rains to come: late downpours of youth, future early showers. It likes to think of warm rooms, and old songs. It likes to think of new ways of saying the same thing over and over. It likes to go in one direction: down. ∎

First published in SunStar Cebu in August 2008.