Penelope Shuttle

Looking at the Cloud

One minute the cloud
                      is a profile of the humourist

the next,
            discarded work
                                of a dozen goldsmiths

You could build a harmonious society
with this

            trailing across half the morning sky
                                like the girl
with the longest hair
                                                 in China,
                                                            or the outspread tails
of the four hundred peacocks
                                in Gardener Wang's garden
                                                            in Jiangsa Province -
After an hour of looking at
                                the cloud
                                                 I understand why
so many young Shanghainese
                                         like pretending
                                                             to be strangers on phonecalls -
If people in Shanghai
                      don't mind,
                                    why should I?
                                                             The cloud darkens,
                                                             like a thought
                                                             of Piero di Cosimo

                     A woman in Shenzhen City
                      kills herself
                      because her wedding is postponed

                                                            The cloud lightens
                                                             to a mile-long silver hand
                                                             of an angel
                                                             with his feet firmly
                                                             in the cooking pot

The cloud takes a pinch of moss
                                from a hoopoe's nest,
                                                             shins down a ladder
                                         at the back of the sky,
brings me an incomprehensible message
                      from the people of Leptis Magna -
                                         goes off in  huff
                                                   to build a menstruation hut
                                                   or a fox temple

(Can't make up my mind!)

Cloud - get real - just do your job,
                                          simplify    or    magnify

                               Bow down
                                before The Wind Of One Hundred and Twenty Days,
                                put your child hand
                                into the sun's furnace,
                                show us what you're made of -


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