Exuberance, poems by Dolores Hayden, member 48,618, celebrates the early years of aviation and includes the poem, “Flying Lesson: Clouds,” that first appeared in Poetry magazine.
Flying Lesson: Clouds
Focus on the shapes: cirrus, a curl,
stratus, a layer, cumulus, a heap.
Humilis, a small cloud,
cumulus humilis, a fine day to fly.
Incus, the anvil, stay grounded.
Nimbus, rain, be careful,
don’t take off near nimbostratus,
a shapeless layer
of rain, hail, ice, or snow.
Ice weighs on the blades
of your propeller, weighs
on the entering edge
of your wings. Read a cloud,
decode it, a dense, chilly mass
can shift, flood with light.
Watch for clouds closing under you:
the sky opens in a breath,
shuts in a heartbeat.