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Home > Columns > Paul Schweer > December, 2005 - Strange Rain

Strange Rain by Paul Schweer


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Our house had a chimney, but no fireplace. Square house,
little square chimney topping the middle of the gray-shingled
steep-pitched roof. No smoke. No fire anywhere down below
the red bricks stacked up high above the house. Cabinets
built back into a wall where the fireplace must have been,
sometime back when. Cabinets. Painted doors,
long thin handles that would snag your pants,
bang your wrist, bruise your knee for you.

The door was always open, just a little bit. Open just enough
to let some light in. I'd prop my head up, lying in the bottom bunk,
let my head rest on a pillow and stare. No way around it. No fireplace.
Staring at the cabinets didn't change that.

But I wanted to hang a stocking somewhere.

***

I saw him in the parking lot.
"Good morning, Sensei."

He didn't look at me, but I knew he'd heard.
"Some people," he said, "don't get it right away."

But I still wanted him to be Sensei.

***

I decided one year to leave milk and cookies.
Didn't know where it would make sense to leave them,
but the kitchen table seemed a good choice. I told
Mom and Dad what I would do. I told them I knew
nobody was coming, but I wanted to leave a little something.

I took a little plate and a squat juice glass,
filled the glass half-full of milk and found
a couple of intact cookies in the big blue
cookie jar we kept on a high shelf.
Arranged it all just so out near the edge
of our kitchen table. Out in plain sight.

I found the glass empty, crumbs on the plate.

***

The uke was nowhere near big as a bus.
Minivan? Yes. Bus? Course not.

He looked small standing next to the uke.
And it looked like the uke had him.
Until the uke took a wild ride.

I saw him later leaning on a wall, trying to stand up.
Then he took a walk, moving down the long hall,
looking for a place to lie down.

***

The gifts had tags. I knew who they were from.

School is no place to tell what you know.
But I told, and was told that it was too so.
It was. I was wrong. It just was so.
Don't matter about no stupid fireplace.

It is just so. Everybody knows.
The story is told all the time.

Little old man. Grey beard, big heart.
Able to do things, magical things.
Knows bad from good, but nobody gets coal.
He turns bad into good somehow.

Sounded good to me. But I knew it wasn't so.

***

"Lot of want-to to get past," I said.

"Look at his energy. There is a spot on the floor
where it all goes," he said. "It all goes
down to that one point."

***

I saw Santa once. He was on a fire truck,
throwing handfuls of candy in the air.
Children would reach up, trying to catch
in their hands the strange rain. Running and crawling
for treats, for sweets. For something from someone
who wasn't there.

~~~

This column originally appeared in Aikido Today Magazine.


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