Kathy Miles is a poet living in West Wales; her fourth full collection was published by Indigo Dreams in 2020. This is a poem she wrote about Luke Howard with a photograph by Jan Boles of Anti-crepuscular rays over Idaho, US.
after Luke Howard, 1802
He named them because he could.
For the thrill of cirrus on his tongue,
cumulus and stratus a banquet
on the palate. Obsession ached
inside him, the need to claim
and classify. The logic of shape.
He envied their resolve,
the purpose that kept them feral,
wandering from place to place
like nomads, always heading
to the next clear patch of sky
that argued its blue emptiness.
Seeing them submerged in sea
or lake, he wanted to raise
them like a grounded swift,
throw them high as he could,
then call them back to his side
by the names that he had gifted.
Now I watch their floss and bustle,
like a woman hurrying to work
worries building inside her; ragged
fractus, weary with the day,
shapeshifting into mist, keeping
its nose to the grindstone.
Their bellies are full of storm
and fire, while mine has emptied
of passion. I think of the man who
organised the skies; how nothing
pleased him more than waking
to quilts of nimbus, cirrostratus.
© Kathy Miles 2023