There are those who tell their thirsty children
that lightening is a bird, those whose language
makes no distinction between the fish eagle
with its neck flashing white
and the electric lines that shatter the night sky,
cracks for water to finally seep through.
There are those who throw the ground hornbill,
that unsettling feathered creature with its human eyelashes,
into a pool of water to bring the rainy season
when the wait has gone on too long.
There is a man who hides in a windowless hut
for three days before the skies open
and the deluge begins. He spends those days
finding his way back into the tao, and once there,
the separation between him and the cloud particles,
the currents of air, disappear, and rain making
is no longer a magic art but a generous thought.
I don’t know if it’s possible
to appreciate the ancient rituals
of calling the rain if you live
in a place that has never known dry.
But when the grass is brown
and the beautiful ferns have
long given up their instinct for greening,
when cows are dying and the children
are next and there is no tap
you can run to, no money you can spend
for one more litre of life,
then the stories you hear of rain dances,
sacrificial birds, tales of clever children
and wizened crones who somehow
break open the skies,
please the right gods, wring water
from the clouds, these stories
become more urgent than the morning news,
your prayers turn to the mythmakers.