The Lives of Rain

The Lives of Rain

Nathalie Handal

The old Chinese man

in the health food shop

at 98th and Broadway tells me

that the rain has many lives.

I don't understand what he means

but like the way it sounds.

I wonder if he tells everyone the

same thing or if this is something between

us, wonder if he fought any wars, killed

anyone, wonder if he ever fell in love,

lost a house, lost his accent, lost a wife or

a child in the rain, wonder if he calls for

the rain when he stirs his daily soup,

wonder what hides in his silk cloth-

rice, pictures, maybe memories of rain.

Rain he tells me, carries rumors of the dead,

of those with suitcases and epidemics.

Rain carries the memory of droughts,

of houses gone, rain like lovers

comes and goes, like soldiers go

and sometimes return to a life

no longer standing.

The Chinese man waits for me to ask

for more. I stand, outside is the rain-

who really knows how many lives to come.