This morning’s clouds shroud the mountain.
They dull the valley, they have closed the room,
they have enclosed us in a coldness.
Our lashes pearl. They want us to honour them.
Those grey, cream and grey with a smudged edge clouds,
honour them and the long streams of clouds just wandering off,
flick-flacking light on fell sides of another valley
then rushing a ridge to tumble into receding plains beyond.
Honour the thunder clouds with their yellow bruise bilious-ness,
assorted clouds, arranged museums of clouds,
sample cases of clouds, variety packs of assorted clouds;
honour the comprehensive provincial collection.
But also dread clouds, panicking clouds, clouds that move
slowly back and forth, clouds that seem friendless,
mean clouds, duff clouds, dim clouds, a sobbing cloud
and an army of clouds with lieutenants, infantry, bombardiers.
And a cirrus earring, a brooch of stacked cumulus,
a nimbus thimble, a strato-bangle in a cloud emporium,
the long sucking in of clouds. Semi-detached clouds,
clouds spinning very quickly, clouds that are motionless.
And other clouds elsewhere: the white on jungle green
clouds above the Selvas, crinkled edging to the Persian Gulf,
flowing, ethereal cirrus over the veldt,
a European cloud crisis, the sub-committees of clouds.
The cumulonimbus corporation over the Vistula,
galleons over the Great plains, feathers over the Tatras,
tumbrils rumbling above Chipping Ongar
and those sudden low mists beside Burtons Wood.
Sullen cumulus over Paris, morose over Carcassone:
dignitaries discuss a prioritising of clouds in Vienna,
a Belgian ware-house filled with mourning clouds:
clouds in weeds, in sackcloth and clouds that weep, seep
then leap across late afternoon meadows in the high Alps.
Clouds that seem bashful, retire behind Gothic spires,
clouds that lay flat, and dissolve, form cubes, cones, cylinders
(those lenticular loaf clouds over Dortmund)
and rivers of cloud in Sarawak, over the Congo,
cuddling clouds that hold the side of Puigcampana,
vegetable clouds floating in stacks over Montana.
Then disappearance into clouds, clouds full of coloured birds,
clouds of identical insects, the sound-scape of clouds,
one hundred cloud smells catalogued in the Tibetan book of clouds.
A cloud’s dumb warmth. Mexican worshipped clouds,
clouds seen as monuments, boutiques or pot -pourris.
The influence of clouds on the early development of the truncheon.
Recorded sightings of clouds in the form of Louis Quinze furniture.
The Tuba. The Torso. The kitchen chair.
Fluff. Cauliflower. Cotton wool.
Clouds that weren’t invited. Clouds that have not been named.
Clouds that will have left before you knew they were there.
Clouds disappearing into a river. A marble cloud, a pastry cloud,
an asphalt cloud. Caring clouds, enfolding clouds, ‘as if’ clouds,
clouds that swirl to conceal pudenda, clouds with
naked infants, sculptural blocks of cloud, clouds with ambition:
a cloud Imperial. Cloud with a persecution complex,
angst-ridden clouds, insulted clouds, an unfulfilled cloud,
a cloud that, in a desperate act of felo de se, evaporates
and so a workshop needed for repairing broken clouds,
service stations for re-fuelling empty clouds
and flatpak deliveries of strato-cumulus.
Drugged clouds, effete clouds, sloppy clouds,
professionally drunk clouds, clouds with no sense of purpose,
illiterate clouds, seriously challenged clouds
and yet marvellous clouds that pass, above, below, to the side;
clouds that drift into the fourth and fifth dimension.
Our simple afternoon clouds clambering over the ridge,
settling in wispy vapours over and behind the castle
then gradually moving away and becoming quickly forgotten.
© Christopher North. 2007