In a time of dearth bring forth number, weight, & measure.--William Blake
Describing the wind that drives it, cloud
rides between earth and space. Cloud
shields earth from sun-scorch. Cloud
bursts to cure earth's thirst. Cloud
--airy, wet, photogenic--
is a bridge or go-between;
it does as it is done by.
It condenses. It evaporates.
It draws seas up, rains down.
I do love the drift of clouds.
Cloud-love is irresistible,
Deep above the linear city this morning
the cloud's soft bulk is almost unmoving.
The winds it rides are thin;
it makes them visible.
As sun hits it or if sun
quits us it's blown away
or rains itself or snows itself away.
It is indefinite:
This dawns on me: no cloud is measurable.
Make mine cloud.
Make mind cloud.
The clarity of cloud is in its edgelessness,
its each instant of edge involving
in formal invention, always
at liberty, at it, incessantly altering.
A lucky watcher will catch it
as it makes big moves:
up the line of sight it lifts
until it conjugates or
its unidentical being intact
though it admits flyers.
It lets in wings. It lets them go.
It lets them.
It embraces mountains & spires built
to be steadfast; as it goes on
it lets go...
Marie Ponsot recently received the Aiken Taylor Award for poetry, given annually by Sewanee Review. Collected Poems (Knopf) will appear in 2015. In 2013, she was awarded the Ruth Lily Prize for lifetime achievement by the Poetry Foundation. Marie was one of Commonweal's poetry editors from 1979 to 1985.