The cloud reaches high into the atmosphere and can arise from air and moisture on a seemingly clear day. The cloud rages, and then dies.
I was born dying. The nurses may have cried and someone may have shouted. I was born with the umbilical cord around my neck and the worst club foot that doctors had ever seen. My foot was a ball and my leg was bent and I emerged into a rage of lights. The noise in that long gone room surely quieted at some point as I was moved to another part of the hospital. I see this baby in a few faded and bent old photos now. Like the crowd of self in past, he is a ghost to me, a stranger. I mourn him in my skin, in scars up my leg from surgeries, remember him in a sense when the railroad track scar from dissolving stitches itches at night or bleeds from an errant wound.
The low, dull cloud lays along hills or plains like a water skinned worm or sheet that blots out the sun.
I had twenty-six surgeries in the first two weeks of life. A doctor came down from Berkeley with an idea that had never been tested. He told my parents there was a 50/50 chance that the never before attempted surgery might allow me to walk. I was a tiny bit of cloud as a boy. The future was an uncertain dull gray.
The fluff ball is the most reproduced cloud in terms of photographs , poems and song. This cloud reads as pastoral and peaceful. It hides and holds hidden complexity and chaos.
Mom came to school while I was having lunch. They called me off the playground. I was taken to the principal’s office. I was in second grade. We got into the wood paneled station wagon and she promised me ice cream. We drove from North Hollywood to Stanford and the men took notes while the older man discussed the numbers of a boy in a gown with diagrams across his body. I was a bag of numbers, a cloud as boy. They shocked my body as high as the dial could turn. They scanned and poked and analyzed. There were not enough beds. I spent that week in the child chemo ward. I fell in love with the girl next bed over who in photos had once had long red hair. She spoke of her love of insects and a town I had never heard of. We held hands on my last night. She died a few years later.
She was my first love and the room and the cold bars of the bed seemed light when she was near. I was a mystery and the doctors had given my body a name but it was not mine to own.
The high, thin ice crystal cloud can play with the light of sun or obscure it with no rain into a charcoal smudged sky. This cloud is far above and of near outer atmosphere.
In 9th grade Honors English, I was failing in secret. I had done so poorly in school due to depression from being picked on for my limp that I had a secret world of failing grades and disappointed teachers hidden from my friends. A classmate named Victoria drew on my skin in smeary blue ink. She wrote poems and little moments of the day on my skin backward for me to only read once home. Soon we would fall for each other and she would both find out the gifted program had thrown me out and that her parents had fallen out of love. Soon she was letters for years broken at times by a physical visit and embrace. Most of the time her body was paper as was mine.
My mother had begun to show signs of her Multiple Sclerosis and the cane was soon to manifest as a part of her life. Mom wrote a diary about feeling bad for not being able to help her boys as her body began to turn away. The last page stopped mid word in harder and harder to read handwriting. The words could simply come to her no more. The page was thin and white and the sun shone through it like high ice cloud.
This cloud is in the middle atmosphere. Most are dry and can in geometric sheets indicate available moisture in the atmosphere for thunderstorms after the cloud dies away in the morning hours. Some can rain from high above but in dry air below create Virga. Virga is a rain that never reaches the ground but leaves a jellyfish of water held above in the sky.
Mom’s bed became a continent of bed sheets. Her cane became a walker, then a procession of wheelchairs. The metal balloons with messages of hope sagged half down the walls, slowly losing their altitude. The notes on my skin became a long distance love of letters and tapes and waiting for the mail.
When Victoria visited it was like that rain from high above actually reaching the ground for once, almost too much to be real. When she was away it was like distance was palpable, miles a kind of weight. Once her long curly hair fell out of an envelope and it was though sky kissed ground, Houston and Los Angeles for a second fused as one, an artifact fell into my air and atmosphere. Later she swore a forever while cheating far away. The forever fell earthward to evaporate.
Scud is a small, low cloud that can appear on the edge of a thunderstorm. It is small and frail but some may mistake it for a possible tornado in the making.
When mom passed away we tossed her ashes from a central California coastal cliff. My parents in their youth had celebrated their love there. For a second the ashes held in front of me as a cloud, a bit of coastal fog, then it blew in a million directions and away. Mom said goodbye as a cloud. Her body had taken her words years ago, leaving her for a while to point at brightly colored plastic letters to spell short phrases on part of a child’s toy. She later blinked once for yes and twice for no as her eyes became her hands and arms until Multiple Sclerosis took that last island away.
High school ended with a last pale letter from Victoria, the once classmate slotted next on the seating chart. It explained in smeary pen how the relationship could no longer be and vague reasons as to why. She once wrote poems and thoughts on my skin in class. My body had been her paper. The memory of those fluttery moments feeling the ballpoint along my neck lingered for a time as a physical memory breaking away, a fog along dermis.
This cloud hangs, lens-shaped, almost in place, sculpted by wind. People saw them sometimes and thought surely they were saucer shaped UFOs.
Mom has no grave. There is only our memory. She lives in houses of recall, slices in time past. She sits at my brother’s wedding in her wheelchair. In another she forever (till I pass away) drives us home in a storm in a car long since crushed at a wrecking yard. In one memory she falls for the first time, her cane clicks away in slow motion, that long passed instance when gravity first betrayed her. She is a crowd in memory, this is her body now.
The letters from Victora for years sat in a box behind the comings and goings of clothes, books, college, grad school, the odd morass post school into career. They were the body of a relationship and era. They began and ended on paper and some smelled of perfume, had errant hairs, had notes on how to listen to long lost tapes of her voice and what songs meant to her of us. She once wanted to watch a musician play music tied to lights across a city and fireworks. She wanted us to be together as the city glowed. The night never happened just how fireworks return as unbloom and ash. The box was thrown away when it simply was time.
The present, ever a wind, had shifted away. The cloud dies into a memory or is forgotten. I walk onward with the long scars up that leg from surgeries on a boy I never knew, who once shared my eyes and my name.
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