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The rainmaker.

At first he relied upon rumor to find work. Farmers and their wives eager to enumerate the hardships of others. Up North, the corn was small as carrots. Out West, wheat had burned. Too often, though, such gossip proved just a way of gloating or simply defense of their own stunted growth, and he learned, like any rainmaker, to count only on the sky--swift white wisps clawed and batted by cat winds, the lunacy of blue, suns drunk on themselves and burning for still more. These signs now show the way. And before horizons sizzle, before brown crumpled plants appear along the roadside, even before the taste of dust, he knows what lies ahead.

Perched on the cracked gray planks of his old wagon, he swirls into a town, looking every inch like a man who could work weather--face deviled with arroyos, saltflats, ruts, straw hair scoured white. Hesitant, slow, a crowd starts moving towards him, pushed by despertion beyond bashfulness or doubt--until at lat, their shuffling stops, long thin fingers knot, and huge eyes lock in stares.

Used to be he stuttered through the speech, now he enters it like sleep, describing his induction into certain ancient rites, his anointed role to serve those cursed with drought. Up goes a gleaming pitchfork, thrust high above his head. but no, my friends, he shouts. This is not some common farm tool. Behold the fables kaval, conductor of elements, wielder of winds.

If they'll just procure some water, a cup or two of water, water, something silver, a fistful of dirt, he will loose its ancient forces once again. Promises of cumulous, white clouds clenching into fists, and rain. Rain!

The ground to break forth in wondrous abundance, unimaginable lushness, seas of green . . . The moon, only the moon, hears him jingle away later, watches winds gouge his face deeper like the landscapes he seeks. Back again on the cracked planks of the wagon, he rides night like a storm--hears the thumping wheels as thunder, sees dust clouds as moist mist, feels sweat down his spine like a suden spring downpour. Above him, stars, dreams which have been frozen. Ahead, more of the same. The rainmaker looks forward, makes the lightning rip, moves on.

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Author:Genega, Paul
Publication:The Nation
Date:Mar 23, 1985
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