I remember asking my mother about the puddles in the sky.
Clouds? she says.
Yeah, clouds, I say. I knew that they rained and that the rain puddled. I understood that much.
But what is a cloud? I say.
Well, a cloud is water before it’s water, she says.
I don’t understand and she sees my face say so. We both look up. The sky is so simple sometimes. It’s so simple this way, only blue along with these uncut sheets of white. It had rained the day before and all around us are puddles as thin as glass and my feet are still dry. I look up at her, about to ask again how it all worked, when she says, Okay, a cloud is a puddle. I suppose you’re right in a way. A cloud is a kind of puddle before it’s a puddle, she says.
I told you so, I say.
So it really was one puddle pouring into another and could the clouds quit and what makes them come and go? And was the moon involved with the clouds as it was with the waves? Or was that after? Was that something I asked after that one Tuesday or Wednesday or whenever it was when she and I talked about the rain for so long? Either way, she understands and says how God would never let the clouds quit. We would be just fine because God waters the world’s crops and people, and the ocean would speak water back to the sky for as long as she and I would be around. But what is it that God drinks? I say, and she just laughs.
That day there were clouds everywhere in the world and we just happened to be looking at ours, our oblivious clouds. I was only beginning to learn how water worked. I didn’t know then that those closest to death look driest. I couldn’t have understood her lying in bed while we watched M.A.S.H. for the millionth time and she looked as cracked and sad as an old and unused tennis court.
Luke Wiget is a writer and musician born and raised in Santa Cruz, California, who lives in Brooklyn, New York. His stories have appeared or are forthcoming in decomP, Hobart, SmokeLong Quarterly, Heavy Feather Review, and H.O.W. Journal, among others. Luke is co-curator and host of drDOCTOR (drdoctordrdoctor.com), a reading series and podcast in Brooklyn. Twitter: @godsteethandme.