Any Excuse for Nephelococcygia

In April of this year I learned about Sky Awareness Week. I was looking up an occasion to write about for a poetry prompt, so I went to the National Days site and found I was in the midst of Sky Awareness Week and after laughing, a lot, imagining people that needed to be made aware of the sky, I learned that one important activity of Sky Awareness Week is taking a blanket or mat into the yard, lying on one’s back and practicing Nephelococcygia: the act of seeking and finding shapes in clouds. And listen to the word: it’s music.

I bring this up because over at the dVerse Poets Pub, Merril presented a line from a great poem called “Clouds” by Constance Urdang as the line to be included in a short bit of prose. I’ve never participated in Prosery before, but I loved the prompt, so I’ll give it a try.

“But these clouds are clearly foreign, such an exotic clutter

Against the blue cloth of the sky”

Constance Urdang

A gentle breeze comes, and the gray that has been smoke for days, breaks to blue rivulets between fluffy clouds. And I break for some needed nephelococcygia. But these clouds are clearly foreign, such an exotic clutter against the blue cloth of the sky. All I see are faces: an alien with huge eyes and a bulbous head, bubbling off the horizon, observing the firs and the lake; a cartoon professor with crazy eyebrows, nose pointing to my right over his wide lips, stretches to the alien’s right; overhead, an angry smiley face and a detailed sneak with a foamy, twisty beard. All these strange faces, remind me of the weeks after Katrina, after relocating, when I kept seeing friends’ faces on strangers. Wanting, needing the familiar so badly. And like those strangers, who only resembled friends from a distance, the cloud faces change.