The other morning, after heavy rain in the night, one of the neighbour’s shrubs – perhaps a Cotinus coggygria – was covered in a silver sheen of water droplets, the effect of which I fear I have utterly failed to capture in the photos here.
I was reminded that when I first lived in California I was convinced that the weather there was perfect: sunny and warm all day and rain every night. I’m not sure how long I’d been there before I realised that in fact the song is right – seems it never rains in Southern California – and the cool green lawns were due to timer-activated sprinklers.
There were sprinklers again in Spain, in all the parks and public gardens, but they were rather more obvious. Or perhaps I just got up earlier as a lot of my students had their classes before work.
At dawn, the sprinklers cast
their centrifugal sequins to the sky,
arched and stretched in pirouettes, unfurled
their dervish choreography.
Now starlings stalk the lawns;
they stab at glistening carabids and jab
decisively at quicksilver
caught between blades of grass.
But that poem is really a summer poem, which seems inappropriate given that the last week or so has brought a decidedly autumnal feel to the weather here in the UK. So here’s a more seasonal piece, also written in Madrid.
The cambered road has tipped
the rain to flood. Storm drains,
stuffed with eighteen months
of drought and dust, refuse
the pooling swirls,
regurgitating summer trash.
Umbrellas rag and writhe
against the husking wind
till fragile skins are shed,
while underfoot, the yellowing leaves
banana-trap unwary hurriers-by.