Driving along the interstate the yesterday, I looked up at blue heron winging its oddly graceful way, silently above the rush-hour pavement. This strange bird, who always reminds me of its ancient, prehistoric ancestors, set me thinking of what I’m writing, where turkey vultures circle and ascend, silently, reappearing over and over in this novel, a wordless image of mortality.
On this drive home, the sprawl of Burlington thins gradually, and with relief I cross over the Morrisville border where the farm fields spread out, and Mt. Elmore appears to my right, my familiar blue companion. I was still thinking of those vultures and that solitary heron when the rain began again, hurling down in handfuls as I alternated through patches of downpour and sunny spots. As I drove out of Morrisville, up the hill towards Elmore, the rainbows appeared, two great arcs, iridescent beyond belief, their tails not tucked neatly behind the mountain, but seemingly almost right before me: they seemed so near I could practically pull over, sprint into the woods, and discover their mythical ends. I parked on a dirt road and jumped out. The rain had already ceased, and only the green still shimmered its glittery glow. The other colors had already faded and paled, wicked away into the clouds.
I stood there watching the rainbows disappear into nothingness. The rain had muddied the road and swept a coolness over the day’s heat. The crickets sang weakly, as if they neared sleep. The wet soil and tangled weeds along the roadside emitted a briny scent that reminded me of a place in Maine where we had once been happy. I wondered if the fall was edging in there, too, this place where I would never return.
The last miles home, I thought of those things–heron, vulture, rainbows, the Maine ocean and sky. The next morning, I told my younger nephew I had seen a double rainbow, and he asked, A double rainbow? Are you sure?
Yes, I said. I’m sure.
Let it not be said that in passing through this world
you turned your face and left its wounds unattended.
Instead, let it be said that when your friends
cut open your chest to partake of its courage,
a loon was calling.
–– Janisse Ray