Sunday, June 3, 2012

Poetry: on clouds & love

We don’t see clouds, you know.

Not the way they’re meant to be seen
(maybe even the way we used to see them)—
with open mouths and squinting eyes,
pointed fingers bowing reverently at the knuckle,
a hundred possibilities in each billow and buckle.
Not the way you were taught in fourth grade,
where each cloud had A Name and A Reason:
cirrus blown to wisps by wind,
altostratus tinged with sunset pink,
cumulonimbus threatening thunder.
We don’t see clouds, except to note
when they pour out rain or sleet or snow,
or rarer, when they block the moon in dark of night,
or rarer still, when in January all there is to see
is one clear sky, so blue it freezes all it covers,
and then we might murmur through hats and scarves
at the vastness of a cloudless day.

But day to day we don’t see clouds.
We pull brims low and sunglasses high,
tuck ourselves under porches and roofs
and into cars, where the highest thing we see
is a stoplight flashing LOOK but no one looks.

Almost unbelievable puffs of beauty,
made of the same water we are made,
spiraling and spreading, condensing and falling,
all without our attention,
as if the universe weren’t a miracle.

Perhaps this is you, in my life —
for years I lay in the backyard of my heart
and watched you, simply watched you,
my eyes full and yet always hungry for your wonder.
But the Real World —
with school and work and bills
and mouths to feed and lunches to pack
and soccer games to drive to and clean up after —
built a minivan roof, turn by turn.

Now if I remember to look
all I see is the dome light that needs fixing.

Beauty everpresent is easily forgotten,
if the heart fails to remind the mind.

Therefore when you have a minute
pack a lunch of peanut butter sandwiches,
but just two.
Leave the Real World a note
that we’ve sold the van and bought a bike,
and I plan to spend the rest of the day
(that is, all my life)
basking in the glow of white
that never stops passing overhead.

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