It is a cloudy day so it’s unsurprising I think I hear rain…
… but it isn’t rain I’m hearing: it’s brittle palm fronds tapping each other. Rattling. I’m reminded even senses can’t know or tell it all.
A few feet from where I’m sitting, there is a dead baby frog. The sun must have begun the work of drying it days ago as it’s now deep black and shrivelled. If I were to pick it up, its webbed feet would stay stuck to the rough concrete, its body dismembered, and that seems slightly worse than leaving it, belly up and burnt.
Just as I think that thought, the rain does fall (which I recognize by the rumpled blots forming on the paper pages in my lap). Maybe it will drop full and hard enough to wash the tiny carcass into the grass to rot privately in peace and green.
Or maybe the rain will stop and my stepfather will be the next to see the thing and will scrape it up with a butter knife or his man fingernails to discard it in the large plastic bin in the garage before my mother sees.
I’ve flown to her house to be away from mine for just a little while. I thought I’d find cheer in the sun and I thought I’d find distraction in the blooming things here. So much pink. And this place, this lanai, is a place my father, her ex-husband, never was. I have no mental file for the rattan furniture that includes his sitting on it. Never once did he eat at that table over there.
What people say so often is some version of “he lives on within you” and there may come a time when that provides comfort but it is not yet here. Right now, he is with me, true enough. He’s in the dead frog, and the reminder all our precious atoms are borrowed and due to be returned. The reminder that, dead, the inside of my father’s mouth looked a lot like the colour of that frog corpse. And the reminder that right beside death, part of the very same system, in fact, sometimes grow ixora.
A bright white egret has glid in. Her beak is the colour of August sunflowers, sharp and gleaming in the growing light (the clouds are receding). Calling to others, she sounded and from her long throat, straightened, I heard a sound unforgettable: a note of the human death rattle.
Life is in everything. Death is in everything. The frog, flowers, and bird all know the tune. So do the palm fronds that sing like rain.
Carrie Klassen writes about (and sometimes photographs) things she finds beautiful. She ghost-writes for thoughtful people with something important to say at PinkElephantCreative.com, teaches writing for small business at PinkElephantAcademy.com, and she shares her own words at CarrieKlassen.com. Carrie is currently working on a series of personal essays.
Organized under living.