Issue 43.2 Winter/Spring 2023

Intermittent Rain

Intermittent Rain

I was raised in a neighborhood where the Lafayette

and Elizabeth Rivers meet. Along the bulkhead


at the end of the block, beneath the water’s surface,

jellyfish fluttered. These rivers were good neighbors,


rarely overlapped their banks, but during summer

storms, the streets often flooded. Holding hastily


made boats of paper and popsicle sticks, my siblings

and I leapt barefoot into that weather. We organized


impromptu races in the runoff coursing alongside

the curbs toward the maws of the overworked drains.


One year, a hurricane skirted the coast, pushed the river

closer and closer to our door, until the water reached


the final stair beneath our front porch planks.

But we were too young to sense danger. After


the river receded, we examined shreds of sea grass,

jellyfish, fish—the detritus spread like treasure


along the street. That neighborhood is now 190 miles

and decades away. I can’t exactly pinpoint when


my relationship with rain turned from open-hearted

to ambivalent. Today is a Tuesday of intermittent


downpours. I’ve driven 30 miles to a seafood market

in search of shrimp freshly trawled. I’m one of three


customers scanning whole fish spread across crushed

ice; trays bearing perfect fillets, scallops, shrimp.


The air carries the tang of fish, the underlying scent

of salt. It’s been twenty-some years since the seafood


market where I shopped each week was decimated

by Hurricane Fran, never reopened. On my way


home, I pass a Honda that has hydroplaned

on the interstate—fender smashed; front grill gone.



Photo: Adobe Stock Photo