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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,


decode it,

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)

Poet Bio

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.”

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