Issue Twenty-Nine - Winter 2017

In the Clouds

By Mercedes Lawry

In the murmur of midday heat, sky
scratched by splinter clouds, an hour
thin with drowse and daze,
when all might relinquish to the languid,

the boy pushes his blue SWAT truck against
the rocks, pulls stones and throws them
into the water, slow, measured, then faster,
in handfuls, scattershot, backwards,

until the woman who cares for him cries
Not at the ducks!
who are clearly on the lookout for food,
not attack, though perhaps their memories
are short, for they return again and again

throughout the afternoon, and sometimes the boy
chases them, giddy with honks and squawks,
and sometimes he ignores them and they find
the windfall apples, peck and peck, shoveling

in the fruit that must be sour and wormy, but also delicious.
Later, the boy and the woman lie flat on the blanket
and see all manner of things in the clouds.
A shark, the woman says,
a hammerhead shark, the boy says,

keen to prove he is smarter, more observant
as often he must be the fastest or the strongest or the best
in a world that’s been shifting under his feet
much of his six and a half years.

Copyright Lawry 2016