Rainy Nights on the Upper West Side


  1. The lights. On cars. In trees. Overhead, silhouetting the thick drops of rain. Lights in windows of rooms you wished you were in. The stop lights all up and down Broadway, green, yellow, and red.
  2. The cold. You could see your breath fog and feel the cold in your hands even if you could keep them dry. Your feet are usually wet and you can feel the cold there too as you walk along, alone, clutching a bag of hot bagels.
  3. The sound. The tires on the wet streets of Riverside Drive or West End Avenue or 113th street. The Number 1 train breaking hard as it pulls into a station. Her giggle.
  4. Her. Distant. Removed. You see her, even now, so many years later, still quiet in a corner, watching everyone but you. Her lips. Her rouge. Her hair, flaxen, a word you will only use 10 or so times in your life, and this is one of them, the first word that comes to mind. You remember her, vividly, as if you were still with her, like you were, for so many nights, listening to the rain.
  5. The rain falls and you walk from your apartment to the store to the bank to the fruit stand to your apartment. The rain falls and you eat your dinner and wash the plates. The rain falls and you stare out a window at the cars driving below and the couple across the street, 16 stories high, like you. The rain falls and your mind empties until you remember that a report is due tomorrow and you begin writing it in your head knowing that you’ll forget the right sentences to use when you actually begin writing the report. The rain falls and you fall asleep and you sleep soundly, knowing it rain again tomorrow.
  6. You. Distant. Removed. She sees you and hesitates. She knows you will overwhelm her and, once, that was a pleasure, like a drug infusing itself within her, but now it’s a curse and she should avoid you, but she cannot, or at least, she hesitates. She sees you and moves to you and you wrap your arm around her and your touch confirms all she loves and hates about you. Even now she tries to erase this feeling, this distant memory of those nights and your touch.
  7. The rain drifts down. The rain bathes the city. The rain is a mist. The rain is lazy. The rain is magical. All through the city, the rain is felt and heard and smelled and seen. You kiss her in the rain and you both blush. The moment is not cliche because you both feel the excitement of love, of possibility, of warmth. You both race home in the rain. She giggles. The train brakes hard, the sound, piercing. In the shadows of a church door pigeons gather beside a drunken man who has passed out. You don’t see the man, but you hear the pigeons coo and you smell the alcohol. In the distance, thunder is heard.