North Shore: Mulberry Street (“And to Think That I Saw It on”), the Line between Where It’s Raining and Where It’s Not

by Tim Gilmore, 7/15/2012

Every day you find yourself at such a line. On one side of the line, the rain comes down, and on the other side, no rain. You can stand right in the center of the line, half of your body accepting the rain, half of your body accepting the sunshine. You can jump back and forth: rain, sun, rain, sun. You can walk in one direction or the other, but it’s not up to you which way the line of the rain moves. What is up to you is how much you mind getting wet.

The child says she’s on Mulberry Street taking a walk with her daddy. She can see something far away, but it’s getting closer and closer. Now she can see what it is. It’s coming in a straight line toward them. She laughs and then her daddy sees it. They laugh again, then walk, not run, back to the house together. Her father tells her about a time when he was on a field and it was raining on one side of the field and not on the other. She tells him she’ll write a poem about this day.

She doesn’t forget it. She was six then. Three years later, she writes the poem.

And by that time, the little girl knows how to water African Violets. Her grandfather gave her one, and she keeps it on the kitchen windowsill. You can’t water African Violets from above. Where water touches the leaves, it will kill them. She removes the plant’s pot from the saucer, fills the saucer half full of water and sets the plant back in it.

Watering African Violets reminds her of the line of rain coming down the street vertically. Horizontally, the line of water must reach the violet’s roots from below, not from above, and can’t drown them. The plant must be able to stand in the middle of the line of its thirst.