The Cloud

My mother loved to fly.

The first time she flew

she took rolls of photos

of a silver wing,

a magnificent cloud, and

a glimpse of the earth below:

these became known as

Mom’s flight pictures.


She never took a lesson

claimed she was no good at numbers

but took advantage of every

opportunity to climb into a cockpit,

taste the thrill of takeoff,

brace for landing, and

marvel at the landscape spread

out beneath her even if it was just

another airliner taking her from

point A to B.


As a child she’d heard that

clouds were for the angels to rest on,

reclining, plucking their harp strings,

singing ethereal hymns for eternity.

Now that she could see both sides

she knew that clouds were there for everyone,

that a cloud could be a handy

place to hide inside of

when pursued by the ones and zeroes of

outrageous fortune.


Like when it comes time

to save this sliver of imagery,

where does it go? Certainly not dropped onto a

laptop hard drive or stick of memory but flung

somewhere into the far reaches of this volatile

storage unit they call a cloud where

it joins with other devices in

the giddy joy of barnstorming

the fluffy towers of fake permanence,

climbing and diving and buzzing the ground,

fearlessly wingwalking into the wind,

tears streaming past grinning ears,

loving every minute of not knowing where

you’ll be next or who you’ll meet or

what they’ll think.


Sometimes it obscures your vision

when unannounced a cloud drops down

and envelops you in the midst of a conversation

you were trying to maintain, so, rudderless

you drift in and out of visibility,

on instruments yet clinging to the stick,

pedaling as fast as you can,

struggling to get out of going through

all these things again and again.


On those occasions it helps to turn

your gaze out the window to the con trails

curling in the blue over rising desert thermals

to remember the excitement when first you

set foot inside one of these silver clouds

so many years ago. Where was it you were

going? Does it really matter? Destinations

and events blown about, crashing into one

another, forming new fantastical shapes,

scattered about but somehow held together

like bits of puzzle caught in a dust devil.


The last time my mother flew

was in a two-seater over

the mountain she could see

from her care facility window

when she became the cloud

of ash puffing out behind

the tail of the tiny plane.


© 2016 Jim Ramsay, all rights reserved.