Rain

August Kleinzahler

I
The room darkens,
then darkens further with the approach
of yet another storm cell from the west
with its columns and plaits,
the tall, ghostly chambers of space between –
une fraction intense du météore pur
willow, sage, Sung green, a hint, perhaps, of veronese;
now darkening further still
until sufficiently dark, as if at the beginning of a show,
and with the sound of it the only sound.
At which point, and not before,
might one begin to detect his outline in the rain,
like an image hidden in a picture puzzle,
slipping about, darting like a pike,
over the hoods and under the chassis of parked cars,
making an appearance in the branches
of this tree or that: immaterial, flowing, wraith-like.
His fur now Grisaille, now Old Holland, then mouse,
altering in hue, just as the rain itself amidst its own shadows,
finally becoming one with the rain, and vanishing.

II
M. Francis Ponge, exemplar of phenomenology
and the breathing of things,
is sitting in the unlit front room, drapes pulled,
solemnly rapt, in the manner of a fascinated child
at home from school with the grippe.
In the distant background Señor Mompou is working through
a few sonorities –
La sonnerie au sols des filets verticaux
M. Ponge is watching the entirety of Warner Bros’s Looney Tunes,
Vols I and II, over and over, for hours on end,
while outside the rain continues to pour down.
The splashes of green, red and yellow
jump from the screen into the darkness of the room,
attended by a battery of sound-effects
mixed in with splattered chestnuts from the Romantic age.
His English is very good, impeccable, really,
but these bursts of imprecation, muttered aside,
the minatory soliloquies; these somehow defeat him utterly.

Still, his absorption is not unlike that of a scientist
examining cells which behave oddly under the microscope,
and likewise mirthless, amidst an assault of mirth.
Daffy, Tweetie Bird, Yosemite Sam –
each of them intriguing, but Bugs, Bugs Bunny,
having quite a time of it out there on the other side of the curtain,
is who most commands the attention of M. Ponge,
lapsed surrealist, champion of the apple
in all its apple-ness, and so on.
Is it the wascally wabbit’s outsize incisors?
The rain-coloured fur with its white piping?
His buoyant cruelty and its inventive expression?
The resourcefulness, the abrupt sentiment?
It is, I tell you, all of these things, and more,
more than you or I have the capacity to imagine,
resolving themselves into that one ‘sensitive chord’,
which may one day come to be a text entitled ‘Bugs’.