Talking of clouds
The responsive, still sustaining pomps for you / To magnify....
—Wallace Stevens, On the Manner of Addressing Clouds
Who says clouds are nothing to speak of?
Allow our sustaining pomps by all means,
whether they keep us or the clouds going.
Under all but a clear sky our music’s contingent.
Their own speech is of shade, sadness, or rain,
storms, tears, fits of depression,
the high lands where poets and dreamers live
on damp air and everyone’s cuckoo.
So much for anvil cloud. Metamorphoses
of cumulus pose the conundrum
of whale, weasel or weathercock
however the wind blows. It’s a poet’s work
to find the right words, under or inside that cloud,
for gestation of metaphor, or merely
to answer the Sphinx’s riddle, and so, given luck,
win third prize in the eisteddfod.
In the lens of our talk it’s impossible
not to magnify cloud, so who says
they are nothing to speak of, whether our
pomps keep us or the clouds going?
The gel on my neck’s not sticky. The room’s cold.
Daniela, the radiographer, wears a blue cardigan.
She shields me from the door with a white screen
on wheels, should anyone enter. She slides
the ultrasound probe along me without traction.
I hear a rustle of birds, the thump thump wingbeat
of swans lifting off my boyhood’s abandoned canal
and powering towards the pylons, the swish of willows
trailing their green strands into flowing water
in secret, remembered places that have no names.
On the monitor, shapes pulse and dilate, enigmas
of black and grey like those I glimpsed long ago
when my children were not yet born but danced
in the salts of the womb whenever they heard Bach.
Daniela tilts me the screen, and interprets.
Blood coming towards us is red, blood going away
is blue, Coventry blue. Yellow maps rogue velocities.
They flicker and swim like the contours of weather fronts
after the News at Ten. I contemplate changing skies
as the swans beat their steady course upwards.
The probe reveals no concerns. Some shards perhaps
have sheared off where the artery forks, one way
to the face, one to the brain – both are in order.
The beat of the swans’ wings recedes, and specks now
I can just make them out as they clear the cables.