It hasn’t rained here since last February. All night I could feel the earth beneath me drink deeply. The tinkering voice on the roof took up with the far-off swooshing of the Pacific, and the persistent rasp of the old, grandfather palm tree in the storming wind. I dreamt of gossamer cocoons, soft and moist to the touch — and of spidery saliva strands, and slippery cervical fluid.
Upon waking all of life felt both heavier and more tender at the same time. Washed of months of layered city funk, even the hard, unforgiving pavement had revealed its true face and in doing so, allured earthworms up from their buried depths like emissaries of the rooty, and hidden underbelly of this place; scattered as willing sacrificial offerings to the powers of renewal. I praised them in all their wiggling pinkness — for making sure we don’t forget that which slithers, and slimes — that which has endured for millennia just beneath the surface — that which eats our dirt and passes it again, slick with life.
I tread lightly past them, lapping up rain-scented morning mist — my skin and hair quickly dampening as the water claimed me for her own.
Mists have a way of doing that — blurring the lines between one thing and another…between one time and place, and another.
During the last big rain, I found myself in Cougar Canyon tucked shivering under a hastily erected tarp shelter at midnight, listening to ancient tortoise-sized boulders far up canyon yield to the force of the rising water with deep bass notes of their own. Every time one of them shifted I felt their storied history ring the lethargy out of my bones, awakening me anew to presence — to my sopping discomfort; to the possibility of a wild flowering in the morning.
I wondered, as I sat vigil in dreamy alertness, what the cats whose namesake marked this canyon were doing — whether they too peered out into the night, soggy, and waiting. Whether or not they too were listening the water into their blood, in hopes of later leaking poetry.
The great, big cats have always stirred, rooted deep in the slot canyons of my soul, in moments where life — always coupled with the presence of death — is heightened. Their sinuous bodies move like liquid, like sun-warmed, and rank-smelling silk, fluttering at the edge of my awareness, marking danger, and possibility. The soft pads of their well-endowed paws impress upon my heart, causing it to thump and pump with renewed vigor. They leave wet and bloodied tracks on my pale skin.
If the moon shines just right — out from pine-tipped trees just past midnight on the flanks of a holy mountain, you might see them — etched into the salty seas of my body like runes, luminous as a night fire.
When I forget all this — how I too am claimed and shaped by the quality of my relationship with earth, and cat, and rain, and worm, my life is an endless stream of unimaginative to-do lists, pedantic conversation, and engagements that leave me brittle.
And for that, the only remedy is one for which I never ask, but can see coming like a far-off storm. When it arrives it lands upon me all at once; a deluge of long, ugly, wracking, grief wails, or sometimes as an impolite, guttural moan that rises up straight from the bowels of earth-sea to call the holy water home again.
To re-member me back into my place.
To allure the pink, wiggly one — so unassuming, up, up, up, and out.
To let me too sing, like rain, of tomorrow’s unlikely blooming.
For more self-study, The Urban Howl recommends The Desire Map: A Guide to Creating Goals with Soul.
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