September 2017

Back to Issue 2

Cloud                       Bateman’s Bay, NSW 

By Anne M. Carson

The front comes in from the west    

dimming light in an instant like 

cloth thrown over the lamp   dousing 

us in early dark    turning us into 

an accidental audience   thunder

blasts off the cliff walls     announces 

a white cloud    twenty kilometres 

long    one hundred and fifty metres 

high which unrolls over the bay    

Like ancients we don’t know what 

it means only that it vibrates with 

portent  The cloud-body quickens 

over the tops of the spotted gums    

spins a slow cylindrical spin    furling 

out over the water    Wisps of vapour 

feather from it    burning cold like dry 

ice    Its reach stretches credulity    

from beyond the South Head of 

Malua Bay over Tollgate Islands 

all the way to Batehaven    A rolling 

roiling cloud-mass    pure white 

with soft rounded peaks      Billions 

of whizzing moisture particles 

cohere into a single discrete cloud-

shape     edges picked out cleanly by 

remnant sunlight      The entire twenty 

kilometre tube turns on its axis 

towards us     as stately as the slow 

revolve of a huge creature held aloft 

in a cradle of water    Or a giant 

inverted wave curling inwards 

in slow motion    never breaking    

It moves away from us    revolving 

in balletic grace    its long arm 

sweeps an arabesque across the bay 

into the straits    at the tail end it 

disappears into the gunmetal grey 

mouth of storm clouds    Behind 

a nimbus of light flares an augury