We met when she was a bristling thunderstorm,
and I was a cynic in headphones and closed curtains.

It wasn’t entirely wrong to say
that day by day,
we took it as a challenge to make ourselves heard above the other.

Outside, she thundered on.
Inside, I plugged in the speakers and sang along.

We spent our days demanding attention from literally anyone and everyone,
except each other.

With hoarse voices,
curt phrases,
poison-laced compliments,

like queens bickering over livestock and subordinates,

days were spent
with nothing to hear but

raindrops pelting sidewalks

and the static noise of two forces of nature
who knew each other, but never quite…. met.

A tried literary cliché it was, to believe every country in the world was entitled to all four seasons,
but the fact was that ours only had two:

It either rained, or it didn’t.

One day, it didn’t.

It’s poetic, in a sense, to watch winter slowly turn into spring;
but I suppose it’s also a different kind of poetry
to wake up one morning expecting grey clouds, only to be greeted by the glare of the sun.

For months, the sun spread its reign among the skies,
and the world was bathed with light.

And it was hot.

God, it was so hot.

It was dry, too, but of more than just water in the air.
It was silent, but conflict had always rung more elegantly than silence.
It was hot.

It was so hot.

And I don’t think anyone actually taught us this–
but somehow we’d all grown up to believe that the sun stood for light, and the rain stood for darkness.

That sunny days were for playing, and rainy days were for shutting the windows and staying in.

So when I was awoken, one sweaty afternoon,
to the ghost of a drizzle hitting a window pane,

I sat up,
and I ran to the door,
and I stepped outside,

and I looked up,

and the rain suddenly looked more radiant than
a thousand suns.

And I looked at the sun then,
slowly setting over the horizon,
its last harsh rays of light dragging in attention with a smug kind of confidence,

And I felt the water slowly dripping down my hair with a strong woman’s pride,
yet also a gentleness;

And maybe the rain could never shine as bright
as the sun on a hot Manila afternoon,
but maybe she didn’t need to.

You see, she glistened.

The way diamonds glistened inside a dark mining cave.

The way she always did,
when no one was looking.

When no one was listening to the melody of her downpour.

I felt the water soaking me.
Soaking me, to my core.
Until I could say for certain that this was us,
finally meeting for the first time.

From within four walls,
she could only patter and patter
on closed windows
and closed hearts;

but looking up, at this moment–

at the sky,
at the clouds that were once grey but now have never looked more silver,
at the droplets of water that were once vicious but now have learned to be calm–

over the years, I suppose it’s also
something we’ve learned:

that the true essence of Rain,
as true as she let herself be,

can only, truly, be found,

when you step outside,
lose the umbrella,
and meet her in a dance.

After all, the best poetry had always been written
on the nights when a poet’s only friend
was the rain.

– “Dancing with the Rain” — for Rain Cuevas, a friend. (5.1.17).

LL.

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