Rain Child

There is a place, just over the ridge of the mountain, just across the canyon, just past the edge of sight, where the ground is dry and cracked. It looks like a cobblestone road, stretching out in all directions until it meets spires that thrust into the air, their forms fluid and sculpted by rivers long gone. If you walk slowly and look carefully at the stones, you can see the faint impressions left by algae and fish of millennia past.

If you stay a while, until the bright azure sky turns grey and a blanket mutes the light of the relentless sun, you will hear the war-drums of Choporo the sky-god echoing past the mountains rising from the distant haze. Stand unshod in the shade of the stone-trees that ring the cobblestone plain, the sand and stone rough but cool beneath your feet. Listen to the deep melodies of drums as the sky rumbles and groans, until rain falls.

It traces little paths through the cobblestones, forming rivers and lakes and seas like the movements of Myusubi, the snake whose body formed the land. The ground becomes soft and slick beneath your feet, and the thin traces of mud are nourishing to dry, cracked skin. Water runs in rivulets down the contours of the pillars, pours like a waterfall off of their wide tops.

If you close your eyes you can hear the ta-pi-ti ta-pi-ti of little feet over hard packed earth. The croaking of frogs and the chatter of small animals awoken from a long slumber filters through the air, and through their voices comes kuchiti, takiji, come and play with us. You stand there and listen to their songs, and you open your eyes once the drumming starts to fade.

The world has burst into bloom before your eyes. Yellow and purple dot the cracks of the stones, and a riot of greens and blues covers every inch. A cluster of white stars fights for space with large flowers of orange; gossamer shapes of a glowing rainbow like light through a crystal flit over the landscape, heedless of the still falling rain. Kuchiti, takiji, comes the cry of the wildlife again. Wind whistles through the pillars, sa-o, sa-o, like the laughter of small children. Ta-pi-ti, ta-pi-ti, go their feet behind you.

If you turn your head quickly enough, you might glimpse out of the corner of your eye the fleeting shadows of a child playing in the puddles, dancing under the rain with trailing cloths of blue light. In the shade of the stone-trees, vague forms play games of hiding, and crystalline butterflies spring away from the droplets that spread when they run through the puddles.

If you stand under the umbrella of the ancient sea pillars long enough, the rain will lighten to a drizzle and the full moon will start to peek through the thinning blanket. The dull reds and browns of the stone shine in a color you have never seen in dyes nor nature, and the puddles reflect blue-white light like glimpses into the spirit world. The laughter of the wind among the stone-trees slowly fades, and the chattering of insects fills the air.

A week later and this all has gone; the ground lays barren and dry again and there are no signs of the footprints of rain-sprites playing among the pillars. In the harsh light and heat of day the endless cobblestone path is obscured by a wavering haze of heat. No animal moves over the stones, and all is quiet except for the soft shuffling of sand over stone. Older spirits have come to stay. They sit and meditate beside you, reminiscing on an ephemeral world that has evaporated under the sun.