Academic journal article Michigan Quarterly Review

Oh the Rain!

Academic journal article Michigan Quarterly Review

Oh the Rain!

Article excerpt

Although it is noon, the sky is dark as one of the Mekong Delta's intense rainstorms blows through. This is the rainy season, when storms are charged with a kind of extreme energy and force that defies comprehension. The storms are tense cycles of potential and release. I find shelter and stare.

First, the approach: A low black cloud on the horizon is probably trouble. A gray smear connecting the cloud to the earth means trouble for sure. If I'm lucky, I spot it far enough in advance to take cover. (Stores, coffee shops, and random houses are usually the best options if I'm far from home.) The clouds rush in with a tremendous drop in temperature and air pressure. With the pressure drop, intense winds kick up, smashing shutters back and forth against the walls of unprepared houses.

Every smash reports like a gunshot. Palm trees bend dramatically.

Clouds in Vietnam sit a lot lower than they do in North America; the sky often seems as if it were almost within my reach. As I stand with my head thrown back watching massive clouds race by in the minutes before the rain, I feel that if I stood upon the roof and stretched out my hand, I might just be able to grab a few tendrils, maybe even a lightning bolt.

Then, abruptly, the rain begins. The hardest rains have the strange and wonderful effect of my being able to hear the rain before I actually feel it. …

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