Uncle Frank says, if you look in a puddle long enough you will see every bird in the sky, and if you stand in it deep enough your wet foot will reach the heart of the fiery earth, from which the birds escaped. He says it is ours to find if the birds are fleeing or if they spread words of hope. So I am standing here until long enough, even if it takes till dark.
Because Uncle Frank says after dark birds turn into stars and stars too know whether there is hope in the void or only annihilation to flee. Except that here in town we can’t see no stars, not many, because the office blocks announce all night the arrogance of man that seeks to outlight the knowing sky. Though I don’t see that last bit, because how can you hide with the lights on, but then Uncle Frank knows lots of things, especially when no-one’s about and Mum says it’s the bottle but I know it isn’t because it’s Uncle Frank.
So that I’m standing here. And then it starts. The clouds in the puddle race; stuff goes in my eyes. Because stuff don’t care about standing still, it cares only about the wind. Birds stream up river behind the flats because there is a force greater than birds and a storm at sea will bring the gulls inland.
And then it commences to rain. Still the fiery heart of the earth has not consumed my foot. I would be a melting foot leeching into the burning earth with a bird at my ear. For then I would know and I could fetch Uncle Frank and tell him and he could tell Mum and she’d know we’re right.
But then it is dark, because of the storm. And wet. My hair is wetter than Harvey’s tongue when Dad tells him not to. It is colder than surprises. The water runs over my face, skirts the folds when I laugh. When Harvey curls behind the TV he watches us so that we’re safe. I tell Dad it doesn’t matter because I can wash it out. The rain’s caress is my open heart.
The birds are streaming up river in a cloud with mixed voices that cannot be distinguished, and the rain cannot speak a solitary word of meaning I can catch and hold. But I know that I love the opening storm like Harvey loves us all and Uncle Frank loves Clara which I mustn’t tell. I must tell Uncle Frank that the storm is a voice that speaks to us louder than birds and stars.