Water 2

15 May 2002 Pre-Rimouski 277

Rain Stick

The bruja turns her rain stick upside down.
Rain drops patter one by one,
then fall , faster and faster
until her bamboo sky
fills with the welcome
sound of rushing water.

An autumnal whirl of sun-dried cactus
beats against its wooden prison walls.

As I look heavenwards,
clouds gather,
rain falls in a wisdom of pearls,
cast from dark skies.

The scales fall from my eyes
and land on the marimbas,
dry beneath the arches
where wild music sounds,
half-tame rhythms,
sympathetic music
like this rainstorm
released by the bruja’s
magic hand.

(bruja: witch, witch doctor)

Comment: Every afternoon, in the rainy season, as regular as clockwork, the clouds build up and by five o’clock, the rain comes tumbling down. Nothing can describe the welcome smell of cool rain on dry dust and hot sand, the sound of raindrops pittering through the trees to splash on dry leaves, or the hiss of water on hot cobbles.

When the rain doesn’t come, then the Oaxacans who believe in the ancient traditions resort to sympathetic magic. They ask the brujos for help and the witch doctors bring out their rain sticks. Sympathetic magic: the sound of the sun-dried  cactus thorns falling through the hollow rain stick imitates the sound of the rain falling on the rain forest leaves. The clouds gather in sympathy and, sooner or later, the skies fill up with clouds, and down comes the rain.


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