Hit play below to hear Daniel Arias Gómez read his poem “Monologue While Watching the Rain Fall” and scroll down for the full text. “Monologue While Watching the Rain Fall” is featured in MQR’s Summer 2020 issue.
Monologue While Watching the Rain Fall
la noche había entrado de lleno, anticipada y enfermiza, con el mismo lento y monótono y despiadado ritmo de la lluvia en el patio. —Gabriel García Márquez
Michelle wakes up at one in the morning and finds the kitchen flooded—exhausted, she sweeps the water out to the patio where it’s raining, then she goes back to bed because she has to be at work in three hours. Next morning, the kitchen is still flooded. I drive Michelle to the factory where she assembles sprinklers all day. The streets are dark, and the rain is still pouring down. I’m pissed because the rain makes it harder to see and because it’s been raining nonstop for the past few days. Sergio, our maintenance guy, comes over screaming about how it’s so cold outside and how, when it rains and it’s pouring down, it’s raining so whatever, but when it rains lightly with a lot of wind, oh man. He goes to the kitchen, but he can’t figure out where the water is leaking from—the dishwasher, the sink, the fridge, almost like the water is magically appearing, he says, and all along I hear the drumming of the rain out on the patio like an allusion to the endless flood. We keep mopping the magical water, and Sergio tells me he was fixing an Irish guy’s toilet yesterday and that he told him he did a Mexican fix, and the Irish guy says, what’s that, and Sergio says, it means I don’t even know how I fixed it man. We spend all morning mopping and looking and moving the fridge, and he keeps saying he’s lost and freaking out and saying this one went south of the border and beam me up Scotty and Santo Dios and he keeps singing the same two words from some song in Spanish—Mi Corazón—with the last syllable of heart held out in a flat, whining note, Mi Corazón, over and over, and the rain outside keeps on falling until he finally says the water must be coming from the roof and through the walls and behind the cabinets. He puts on a yellow jumpsuit and climbs to the roof and covers it with tarpaulin. The next day I drive Michelle to the factory. Then Sergio comes over and sees the kitchen is still flooded, and he says that last night he dreamt a giant wave of water, like a tsunami, you know, was coming in and he was trying to stop it but he couldn’t, and he says that since it’s not the roof then it’s gotta be a busted pipe. He starts tearing the cabinets apart, cutting through them and through the wall, and all along I keep hearing the water on the patio and Sergio mumbling Padre Santo and Señor Padre and Mi Corazón, and he asks me if he can put on some music while he works and I say, sure, but when he puts on a Christian rock station I think if I would have known I would’ve said no. Then, as he cuts the wood of the cabinets and breaks them down into a pile of boards on the floor I think of Sergio, my music teacher in Mexico teaching me the Greek modes on the guitar—Ionian, Dorian, Mixolydian, how jazz musicians use them when they’re improvising, how jazz improvisation has to do with freedom and instinct but also with repetition, practicing the scales over and over until they’re ingrained into the muscles. Sergio fixes the pipe, finally stopping the water, and says he’ll come back tomorrow to put back the cabinets. The next day, Michelle and I wake up at four in the morning and drive along the desert -ed streets. I drop her off at the factory. It’s freezing cold outside, so Michelle’s wearing three sweaters. She kisses me goodbye, and it breaks my heart when I see her slouch away slowly, already tired, carrying her lunch bag—peanut butter sandwich, cut-up mango, sopa de fideos, oatmeal, and a thermos of green tea. When I get home I go into the kitchen. I look at the stacks of pots and plates and spoons I had to take out of the cabinets and place on the counter and the stove like tiny pyramids. I look at the pile of boards that were the cabinets, then I look into the hole under the sink and see the fixed pipe that I never even knew was there digging into the ground, carrying water every day off into who knows where. I open the back door and listen to the rain hit the dirt and the branches of our tree, and I wait for Sergio to come fix this whole mess.