The Ubiquity of Rainbows

If I weren’t staring at my feet, I wouldn’t have noticed.

Arched across wet pavement.

For a confused moment I look straight up, an even gray.

Lower, a rainbow strong enough to cast that reflection, my reward for walking in the rain, and as I stare and cross the bridge a second rainbow stealths its way above the first. They arch from end of town to end, and all of us over the babbling highway. The zeroth rainbow is left behind in the driveway.

I walk with head turned over shoulder, considering colors. I catch a passing biker’s eye in time for a split-second smile; I ponder how the experience of rainbows is ubiquitous enough that one split-second smile says everything two strangers in the rain have to say to one another.

Out of the rain, it takes longer.

I wonder if people in cars see it.

I am suspicious that violet cannot possibly be real.

It pops out against dark clouds, as if it were the same dark gray except for happening to be a color, as if all that’s a color about it is something sensed invisibly and overlaid on my perception. Being true doesn’t make it any less true.

The rainbow fades, the colors remain. I’ve always liked walking in the rain. When the air isn’t so empty.

Cars stop early for me, my weather-enhanced right of way.

My charcoal pants look blue; the overcast pushed it down from the sky.

The rain drips the trees into the road.

The sidewalk is something deep and rich—but gray is supposed to be drab and colorless and the sidewalk is so vibrant, so I have no word. I recognize that I’ve reached town by the yellow-painted curb.

Shops crowd out clouds’ shade with their own shadows.

It’s sharp footsteps and dripping gutters vs. smooth-whoosh cars.

During the return trip the earth rises, the sky sets; hills roll indigo through that tunnel.

At my mailbox the rain stains envelopes addressed “dear neighbor,” “valued customer,” “resident.” Something is fractured into its component parts. I focus on dodging snails as they explore the very gray sidewalk.