When I look inside of you Into the very depths of you Do you know what I see? Two stormy mushroom clouds Looming wetly in your eyes Grey harbingers of doom They roil and linger in the room I’m afraid; I’m mesmerized Then Boom! Everything is gone In the ferocity Of your atom bomb Atomic, Anatomic, Catatonic The fearsome stillness after the storm Your atoms ravaged out of form
When I look inside of you I see vanquished fields beneath The clouds of smoke and acid rain I see the skeletons of trees The mucid ashes of flowers and bees They were rustling, bustling, hustling Their atoms dancing merrily You plucked each atom from its orbit In the fierceness Of your tragedy Calamity, Catastrophe You heaved your mighty weight upon it Smote your world beneath your feet
When I look inside of you I see the heaving cosmos Suns and planets whirling, swirling In the vast blue-blackness Meteors like fireworks Blazing exultant trails Shimmering tails, Star-burnished sails The firmament a holy grail You crush the heavens in your fist You flick your angry blue-bruised wrist The sky comes crashing down Molten lava on the ground Seismic vapor all around I can taste it in my mouth
But when I look at you from here You sit there statue-still Not an eyelash moves at all You are transparent, mystical Ethereal, Apparitional But within Clandestine, Hidden There are raging storms Carrying sand and ice alike I feel a chill in my bones And all of hell’s feverous might And all the while you look at me Your skin shrouded in serenity While in a loop, relentlessly You break and shatter on the inside.
This piece is inspired by the dramatic elements of surprise that are innate to tropical weather. An ethereal tribute to Sri Lanka. Title inspiration from Mark Medoff’s 1979 play titled “Children of a Lesser God”. Screen-adapted in 1986 by the same title. Indra: Hindu storm god Yu Shi: Chinese rain god Zeus: Greek storm god Calandra: Greek goddess of rain Olympus: Abode of the gods and site of the throne of Zeus
Having lived in the golden arms of a tropical island in the Indian Ocean for over 5 years now, I have had ample opportunity to experience its whimsical flirtations with the weather gods. From a spirited lightsaber play with Indra*, to a blitheful dance in the rain with Yu Shi* to a gladiatorial display of stormy rage and thunder with Zeus*, the tear drop island of Sri Lanka has perfected a celestial theatre all its own. The spectators, all its creature denizens, are left sometimes daunted, sometimes dazzled but mostly awed.
Here’s my attempt at describing a not so unusual day in the equatorial climes of Serendib.
Act 1 - Scene 1: I wake up to a pale amber light filling the space above the curtain rails in my bedroom. The usually glad-eyed sun is in a somber mood today as I draw back the drapes on an overcast day. I can feel the fickle aura of the atmosphere seep into my bones and I know it’s going to be one of those weather-wise dramatic days. I arm myself with an umbrella as I step out into the late morning torpor. For while the heavens prepare to unleash their elemental surprises for the day, the moisture laden warmth of the tropics continues to caress all and sundry with sticky-wet fingers. The clouds continue to gather in thick-bodied eskers along the horizon while the sky above shifts between a myriad shades of grey. The trees sway to the side favoured by the wind, rustling prophetically of things to come. Then suddenly they are still, silent. A storm is brewing.
Act 1 - Scene 2: As far away as the rain bearing clouds appeared 20 minutes ago, they have magically, mysteriously traversed the curvature of our atmosphere and are now directly overhead. The grey of the sky becomes opaque like thick wedges of granite. Even though you’ve witnessed this drum roll of a scene a million times, it stops you in your tracks, makes you look up, sends the smallest of cold shivers down your spine. If you’re indoors, you look on from the safety of your enclosed space. If you’re in your car, you hurry home; if you’re walking, you quicken your steps to the nearest shelter. And then the weather gods begin their ethereal orchestra as big fat drops of rain begin to pelt the earth in an opening prelude.
Act 1 - Scene 3: Lightning forks through the sky in an ever widening mesh across the city, its jagged ends tearing into the clouds overhead. Jeering, threatening, laughing Thunder strides along with its booming megaphone. The stuporously falling rain has now transformed into sinewy sheets that cut diagonally into the stinging, singing earth. The usually bustling streets are almost empty; when the gods are at play, the mortals look on from safe distances. Maternal Calandra* cloaks the city in a gentle haze, blurring out the most riotous parts of the explosive crescendo. And the rain continues to come down.
Act 2 - Scene 1: The glistening leaves on the rain-washed trees rustle in the evening breeze, shaking off their watery burdens drop by drop. The Earth rises from her lotus position, stretching out her arms, a sweet petrichor exuding from every pore. Flying, crawling, creeping creatures poke out wary heads, blinking at their shimmering world. The more intrepid venture out for a last meal before their day is finally done. Fledglings raise a stridently petulant clamour, instinctively aware that the beast has moved on and their world is once more safe and bounteous. People hurry on with their lives, still guarded, still weather-anxious but impelled by that unceasing urge to get up and go on. There is a final roll of distant thunder as Zeus laughs one last time. The clouds clear and a rosy orange sunset appears on the horizon as the rest of the deific thespians head back to Olympus*, their cosmic romping done for the day.
Act 2 - Carpe Momentum: The late evening breeze is cool and crisp as it darts nimbly into gardens and homes, nipping gently at sun-browned skin. The sky is clearer, brighter as Orion and Taurus blink in nocturnal wakefulness. The smaller creatures are abed, while the bigger ones slow down in the gentle luminescence of a clear, fragrant night. Tomorrow will be another day with its own atmospheric act and aura, for that is the way of the lusty tropics. And the children of the weather gods will awaken to a new day, fresh beginnings and another chance to get it right.