By Dolores Hayden
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,
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.
Source: Poetry (April 2014)
Dolores Hayden has been a poetry fellow at Djerassi and VCCA as well as a Guggenheim, ACLS, and NEA fellow. She is a professor of architecture, urbanism, and American Studies at Yale University where she teaches a seminar called “Poets’ Landscapes.”
More Poems about Activities
Vagrants and Loiterers
You got that clean waistcoat,
the bright white of a well-tailored
shirt, you got those loose-as-sacks
slacks and some spit-polished shoes,
and you know, whether you are looking
like money, or about to take a stroll,
to tilt that hat like you own
the world; yeah, smoke...
When I was “in despair” (the dark days
when I actually used such terms)
I noticed the behavior of animals —
sleep when tired, eat when hungry
That made a lot of sense to me
and yet I felt different
More Poems about Nature
What Women Are Made Of
We are all ventricle, spine, lung, larynx, and gut.
Clavicle and nape, what lies forked in an open palm;
we are follicle and temple. We are ankle, arch,
sole. Pore and rib, pelvis and root
and tongue. We are wishbone and gland and molar
Of Tribulation, these are They,
Denoted by the White.
— Emily Dickinson
in the split geode
a Santa’s grotto
every surface —
like sea urchins’ —
in the doorways
sleepers from the womb
to make of anything succulent