From Alex Fox.

Leeds. Yorkshire. UK.

Learning to name clouds

The sky wasn’t ready to receive us:
as clouds mopped after sun spills,
hills gulped heat then, shaded, cooled,
lobbed wind around in rowdy gusts.

The thermals puffed on their cumuli:
mediocris above us, blooming congestus
to the west where calving plumes rested
on collapsing columns. Our new canopies

lay limp and sighed. We wouldn’t get to fly.
The instructor saw the front ahead:
first, ice crystals spun to cirrus threads
stitched the tattered blue, then altocumuli

unravelled to stratocumulus stratiformis –
a muddle that lowered the sky. In grey
calm, we soared until rain stopped play
with a darkening drizzle of nimbostratus.

Grounded, I weighed up the trade: unlearn
the vast truths of the childhood sky,
the storied mind whose empires
rose for me alone above the plains

back home, and earn your place in a hive
stiff with Latin, riddled with equations:
the architecture of these brief cradlings,
their seraphim views, our thumb nail lives.

© Alex Fox 2007.

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