‘Chance of showers’

At first I think it’s a mouse. It’s almost the size of one. Then I notice it’s hanging in the air, and that it has antennae, and what I can hear purring is coming from its wings, not its throat. It’s mostly a blur. I want to catch it. But before I can, it’s rising into the sky, silhouetted against the silver mackerel clouds and now it could be a bat, a flying mouse, an organic drone. It’s looking for something, unless another creature finds it first.

It’s been more than a month since we had rain. Even if I hadn’t been here all that time, the smell of this evening would have told me. The only water in the air is from horse dung, and the froth on top of pints, and the sweat of squinting cyclists evaporating in the midday heat.

But now, it’s almost dark, and the vapour’s finding things to cling to: tarmac, soil, stone, trunk, leaf, and that’s all the evening smells of to me. Of green; of dying, drying green and grey. I don’t know why I’m surprised, because it’s the smell of July; of childhood holidays in hotter countries than this; of swept up stone dust in the corners of rooms.

The clouds are moving in, drawing the curtains over another rainless day. They say tomorrow there’s a chance of showers, but the moth knows otherwise.