13 February 2009

Desert Storm

24 November 2003

Haiku #28:
Dry hiss, sand on stone,
Covering all signs of life
Where rain had fallen

I sit and listen, in my mind, to the faint whisper of dry wind blowing across my soul. It is the sound of sand scraping across rocks, or the rattling of dried stalks of beach grass. This arid scratching is a beautiful sound, a natural sound. The product of a complex interaction of wind and earth. The sound calms, centers me in the absence of traffic or people noise. It takes the place of human speech, which is when I like it most. The faint raspiness can be quite desolate. It whispers to me of the irresistible march of time, and of a past long forgotten. The small tickticktick of sand hitting dry, brown grass sometimes reminds me of the living things now dead, or perhaps sleeping. The hollow stalks a bittersweet reminder of the cycle of life and death.

The stalks once green and juicy, the cells full of sap and water. The wind through them at that moment of vibrant life is a happy, comforting sound. In dryness, the sound of bones rattling in a box. These sounds remind me to be patient; through the passage of time, the seasons round upon themselves. What once was withered and shrunken in winter grows green and full in the spring. Not for all things, perhaps, but enough to eagerly await the changes, as I sit here and gaze out the window.

Sometimes the noise grows deeper, surrounding the mind and allowing no escape. It insinuates itself into every fold of consciousness to create a filter of sand and static. When this happens Spring feels very far away, a ship out on the horizon, tiny and gray. The filter renders it difficult to believe that anything was once green and alive and that it will be again.

Life then becomes a waiting game. How long can it be tolerated, the constant wind, the low murmur and moan, the mental fatigue from parsing so much intellectual grit? This is unknown to me. What is known to me is that the parched canyon of my soul once carried life, green and vibrant. Flowers once furred the ground along the banks at the bottom. The wait: sky watching and anxious for the next life-giving storm.

A storm is in some measure what the twins meant to me. These children were the furious “50-year storm” appearing suddenly in my desert. They drenched everything with the water of life, stirring many slumbering things from their rest beneath the red-brown sand. It is like a desert where the insects and the flowers encase their larvae and seeds in near impenetrable shells, to lie in stasis while awaiting that storm of a lifetime. The clouds gather, and then burst in a torrent over soil baked for years. As if by magic, the ground is covered with flowers. The air is thick with insects swarming out of hibernation, their brief frenzied lives making the most of this transient opportunity.

Life before the twins was much like that. They soaked my soul with a downpour of love. Something began moving inside, shaking off the burden of a long sleep to stretch upward to the life-giving rain.

Deserts have a unique, majestic beauty if one cares to look for it. Canyons and mesas show this to be true. But I have come to know my soul wants to be green and growing. The twins showed me that I cannot live in “splendid isolation”, contemplating a wide-open desert under a blinding bright sky. In my life, I had forgotten that I enjoy rain now and again, all the more so when the rain carries with it the power of unconditional love.

This is the realization that my soul had grown arid over the years in a process so gradual that I never saw the changes taking place. I slowly grew used to it, unthinking, unknowing: a slow drip such that I thought it was normal now and had always been. I grew very fond of the desert. It never rained, and there were few others to disturb my grand solitude. Not much seemed to change and I was accustomed to that state of affairs.

Stasis was acceptable for the sake of not having to change. This is a wonderful state of affairs if it is possible to delude oneself into thinking that one is truly an island. I became brittle and petrified. I was a master in convincing myself that I had no need to change. After all, I told myself, stability on my own terms is what I craved. Stability is what I got, at the cost of losing considerable humanity within.

This cloudburst in the shape of my children brought me back to life. I was awestruck and grateful beyond the capacity to express it. The twins made me realize that I am capable of love in all its dimensions, and that I truly am a human being. The desert in me disappeared under a carpet of new life, green and vibrant. It is cruel beyond imagination that they are gone, and I have felt my soul start to crack and shrink again. I am praying for another storm.


February 12th, 2009
Deep down, I am grateful that I never forgot that life was possible. I have my Wee Lass now. And there are other, different storms out there, on the way. I turn my face to the rain.


  1. That is a beautiful post! I stopped in over from Mama Dawg's blog. I've always enjoyed your comments over there. Have a good weekend.

  2. Good. I'm so glad that you have your face in the rain again. It's important.

  3. It's hard to know what to say today. I read this several times and each time I saw the vision you describe in my own mind, the wind in the stalks of grass, the dull gray out of the window. Amazing images you've brought to life on the page with the written word. I can't know your loss (which is how I read your post) but the beauty you've managed to create from it is wonderful.

    I hope there is a drenching, cleansing rain to your soul soon. And that rain fills you up to the brim with peace.

  4. a beautiful and inspiring piece.

  5. I imagine that I am laying in a bed of springs grass and soaking up your words like the sun...nice to get out of my world every now and then and visit yours...

  6. I is not able to string da words together like you do.

    You are amazing! I love how you paint the scene in your mind and in your heart. Beautiful!

  7. Sometimes life feels like an endless drought, no? But as far as I know, there's no such thing as an endless drought. Rain is coming. Can you smell it yet?

    I love the smell of rain..

    It's snowing here today. That's almost as good as rain for me. It's certainly much prettier than the dead ground and mud that we've been looking at for the last week or two..

  8. Lovely.
    I'm glad you realize how important the rain can be.
    Thank you for sharing all of this. It's like opening a gift every day.

  9. A Rite of Passage into Fatherhood . . . too bad yours was so painful.

    Glad you got your second storm, Irish.

  10. I'm loving the blog and I'm soooo on the train now mister.
    Please drop by to see me when you have a minute or two.

    Happy Valentine's Day and....

    Steady On
    Reggie Girl

  11. Mr Irish...well done. Get your word verification off (:) and always look for the ways to water your soul...

  12. I feel like I might throw up. In a good way.

    I'm gonna read it again.

  13. Soak up the rain, Irish.

    God, I love to read your writing. When you finally publish all this I'm going to get to say, "I knew him when."

  14. Cocotte: Thank you! I am glad you stopped by. You do the same.

    Belle: It feels good, now that I know about the storms…

    BMA: Finding beauty has been hard, but I’m getting better at it.

    Sunny: Thank you, I am glad you found it so.

    Joanie: Thanks, my dear.

    SK: Oh, dear, I’ll leave out some extra hankies :)

    Chef E: And nice to have you.

    Beth: *blush* Thank you, glad you liked it.

    CPM: Yes, yes I can. *breathe*

    OAM: It took me a while :), and thank you!

    Captain: Heels in, chest out, waiting patiently…

    Lizspin: The trick is to learn from the pain, and I did. Thanks.

    MMMR: Wonderful! (grin) Glad to have you aboard!

    Braja: (bows) Thank you. And how did you know I was about to turn off the word veri? You psychic, as well? (grin)

    SMUK: Um, okay :) I hope that’s a good thing!

    Janie: Ima trying, ma’am. And thank you; when I do publish, you will be on the list of people I have to thank for getting me there!

  15. re: I feel like I might throw up...Um, I ate some bad fish earlier, I was just filling you in. Feel free to randomly update me on your gastrointestinal issues as well. ;-)

    No, not nauseous, just heartmush. I confused my feelings and their corresponding organs.

  16. SMUK: Whew! Well, I hope you are feeling better from the fish.

    My tummy is ehhh, okay. ;)

  17. Gotcha....sometimes in my case I feel like I'm drenched in the rain. How's that old Sting lyric? "It's a big enough umbrella, but it's always me that's getting wet"

  18. I'm just so moved by your writing.

  19. Teri: Spot on. I get that :)

    anymommy: Thank you. Truth from the heart is surprisingly easy to write sometimes.

  20. There is probably some sort of blog protocol that I am about to break (I've never been good at following rules), but I'm a mom who fears nothing more than losing one of her kids. And my heart aches to hear your very eloquent expression of your feelings. Yet, the more banal part of me wants to know what happened. Feel free to ignore me! I won't be offended.

  21. Hey, Irish. Sounds like something heartbreaking happened, but also that you have risen above and beyond it, at least in part, and I wish you all the best in finding peace.


  22. Briana: I know where you are coming from, it's okay. The short answer is we lost two preemie twins in the space of about 3 weeks, back in 2003. It's okay to ask, it helps me.

    Flutter: That about sums it up!

    FL: It did, and I am working hard to keep rising. Thank you.

  23. I'm so sorry. My question came after several drinks. Even as I typed, I felt it was an invasion of your privacy, but that didn't stop me (I didn't have very good judgement at the time). So my plan was to retract my question and apologize profusely for the invasion. I'm relieved you didn't find it as intrusive as you could have.

  24. Ok,that was weird. The above post that says "Aidan" was actually Briana. Aidan is my son.I have no idea how that happened.

  25. It's amazing what the birth of a child(ren) can do to your soul, isn't it?


"Let your laws come undone
Don't suffer your crimes
Let the love in your heart take control..."

-'The Hair Song', by Black Mountain

Tell me what is in your heart...