Philopluvia

tylaarabasbarbican6176tylaYes, I technically made up that word. But you might recognize its two parts: philo, from the Greek φιλος, and pluvia, a Latin root. Philo conveys the idea of love or friendship, as in “philosophy,” the love of wisdom, “bibliophile,” a book-lover, and so on. Pluvia simply means “rain,” as in Pluviôse, the fifth month of the calendar of the short-lived French Republic (it was a wet time of year, I guess?).

Hence, philopluvia means “the love of rain.” Whether or not you’re familiar with its etymology, you probably recognize the feeling. Sometimes it’s the rejoicing of a fresh March shower that pulls the green from the ground up into the grass at last; or sometimes the awe of light-falls and tumbling thunder on a summer night.

Today, it’s been the strange, simple comfort of a knocking on my window from the sky, which somehow reminds me of someone bigger and stronger and steadier than me. It’s been a safe, still day.

As I write, I’m also reminded of a poem I wrote in my freshman year of college, which feels like a very long time ago. Though my writing style has changed, I still relate to the thoughts my 17-year-old self tried to put into words. Perhaps there’s an image or idea the poem can offer that connects with your experience as well.

Two Men on a Rainy Evening

A man with a black umbrella
walks down an alley in the rain.
A rotting, collapsing alley
with corroded iron street lamps
glaring through the wet gloom
and tarnished knockers on each door
and a forlorn orange flower
in the box outside a second-story window
with cracked, scratched shutters
and grime-flecked panes
exposed by harsh light within.
The drizzling rain falls in spatters,
drooling over the gutters,
dripping and seeping down the naked walls,
pooling in dents of the sidewalk.
The man shivers and huddles
in the shadow of his umbrella,
and hurries on his way.

Soon after,
a man with no umbrella
walks down the alley in the rain.
The faded, battered alley
with old-fashioned lampposts
shyly glowing through the misty dusk
and antique brass knockers on each door
and one bright marigold
living outside a big square window
with chipped red shutters thrown wide
and light rippling out through its panes.
The rain sprinkles all around,
trickling over the eaves,
plopping onto the sidewalk in quick drops,
forming puddles for children to splash.
The man looks around him
with his hands in his pockets
and the rain soaking his hair,
and ambles on his way.


© 2013, Rachelle Ferguson

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