I came across this thought-provoking poem that reminded me of a post several days ago, Slowly, Slowly Wisdom Gathers. We to lay on our backs and let clouds above drift across the sky. They paint their pictures in that blue; we remember our stories in them as we close our eyes, and we drift along with them. We know something is beyond the horizon of both the sky and our immediate life. Slowly, it drifts into view and it sharpens with detail as it enters this moment only to drift away. Nothing is permanent. Everything is transient. Jane Flanders wrote this poem as a testament to clouds and life move serenely across the canvases they rest upon.
At first, as you know, the sky is incidental–
a drape, a backdrop for the trees and steeples.
Here an oak clutches a rock (already he works outdoors),
a wall buckles but does not break,
water pearls through a lock, a haywain trembles.
The pleasures of landscape are endless. What we see
around us should be enough.
Horizons are typically high and far away.
Still, clouds let us drift and remember. He is, after all,
a miller’s son, used to trying
to read the future in the sky, seeing instead
ships, hornes, instruments of flight.
Is that his mother’s wash flapping on the line?
His schoolbook, smudged, illegible?
In this period, the sky becomes significant.
Cloud forms are technically correct–mares’ tails
You can almost tell which scenes have been interrupted
by summer showers.
How his young wife dies.
His landscapes achieve belated success.
His is invited to join the Academy. I forget
whether he accepts or not.
In any case, the literal forms give way
to something spectral, nameless. His palette shrinks
ti gray, blue, white–the colors of charity.
Horizons sink and fade,
trees draw back till they are little more than frames,
then they too disappear.
Finally the canvas itself begins to vibrate
with waning light,
as if the wind could paint.
And we too, at last, stare into a space
which tells us nothing,
except that the world can vanish along with our need for it.