Sunday, December 13, 2009

Ave

It's raining in San Francisco. People crowd under an awning, one woman bending from the waist to look up toward the sky, a drop catching her eyelid. She blinks, then smiles and shakes her head.

My boots shine in white light from a laundromat. A young girl in a striped hat circles the central counter, middle finger tracing her path along its surface. She looks over at sister or mother loading clothes, and begins another round.

I'm running late, and the bus is too. I step out to hail a cab.

Crazy night with the rain, the cabbie says. He turns up the volume for Ave Maria.

The city seems to slow down, moving in time to the music. Girls in tiny skirts stretch their naked legs hopefully in skyscraper heels, every step a prayer.

Ave Maria
Gratia plena
Dominus tecum
Benedicta tu in mulieribus

A sodden Santa looks up as we pass, water dripping from his beard. Lights blink in store windows. I ask the driver to drop me off several blocks early; I want to walk. I climb out into the cold, rain hammering onto my umbrella.

Sancta Maria
Mater Dei
Ora pro nobis peccatoribus

At the corner store, teenage boys crowd the man behind the counter. They imitate his speech impediment, cruelly, but he doesn't raise his voice. Buy something or leave, he says, words squeezed and misshapen, but his eyes sharp. The kids are embarrassed, reaching into pockets to pay, edging back out into the night. I bring my juice to the counter and he looks at me, smiling gravely, like a blessing.

Still raining, he says.

4 comments:

TonyB said...

Beautiful in so many ways, this piece was.

Yes, it's still raining, and as I stepped out of church today, after the lecture entitled "In the Valley of the Shadow", ready for more of the rain that I fought on my way in, the wind suddenly blew the clouds apart, and there was blue sky and sun.

"Maybe this day will be ok after all," said an old lady, brushing past me with her cane.

Maybe it will ... maybe it will ...

Evan said...

If you don't submit something to me I am going to be mortally wounded! I will never recover. Are you that cruel? Could it really be? nawww . . . (i never thought so!)

Chemical Billy said...

Not that cruel, Evan! A sub will be on its way soon.

Anonymous said...

Ton ecriture me fait un eclave de mon amour pour toi, ma belle ;o)