umbrellas of magburg
Sitting in a train station in a heavy downpour you can quickly become the interlocutor of umbrellas. You must keep it to yourself, for you do not want to broadcast like the man guarding the swimming pool, announcing the waiting times of those wanting to jump in after having eaten. "Egg salad sandwich? Forty five minute wait. Beans, you say? Two hours, young man, straight to the bottom"!
That young woman with the umbrella held back behind her hat-less head may look as cheerful as the Morton Salt girl, but you observe her pale hand gripping the handle, no spinning, rigid. 'Broken-hearted', you nod to no one, she has six months of drinking milk right out of the container from her drafty apartment fridge before her heart will discover her very own Gene Kelly.
A man steps forward. Nice suit, heavy over-coat, fedora. Black, lifeless umbrella directly over his head, water pouring evenly overboard like clogged gutters above a nicotine-stained insurance building. He's right out of a Hitchcock movie, assassin stepping forward with a twin umbrella, gunfire, chocolate syrup blood hemorrhaging from the wound. A woman screams, and the shooter escapes in a forest of melancholy black vinyl mushroom tops. You want to scream, 'That man has a gun'! but you remain silent trying to read the conspiratorial plan from his magpie black eyes at an awkward angle.
You're back underneath the eaves on that hard bench, safe from the spraying mist. Your umbrella is still rolled, fastened with a solitary snap. You hold it briefly at your nose - there's not a lovelier scent than an old umbrella shaken and dried natural, a reminder of meeting your true love as she descended from the train in a warm rain all those years ago, a few wayward drops spotting the shoulders of her cream-colored coat. How you held her close with one arm under that umbrella and kissed her.
You shiver and sip cold coffee out of a paper cup as you unwrap wax paper revealing a soggy tuna salad sandwich. A combo preventing you from ever swimming again. A promise: no matter how hard it will rain you will burst forward, spinning the umbrella above your head at a slight angle backwards, water concealing your lonely tears.
photo by George F. Mobley