The Poetry of Mary K O'Melveny

CLOUD COVER - New Verse News



by Mary K O’Melveny


At first, there was just a single cloud.

It wasn’t even very large. One might 

have missed it altogether. Like a cataract.

But it grew bigger, began to darken.

Before long, it had multiplied into

several cloud patches. Each shifted

to a different corner of the sky,

staked out a position. Refused to

move. Dared other clouds to approach 

at their peril. The once-azure sky

vanished. Instead, shadows loomed

overhead like prehistoric birds of prey. 


At first, we did not worry. We knew

shadows needed some light to survive. 

But the shade expanded. Umbras were

everywhere. People queried What can we do?

Thoughts were exchanged. Silhouettes

were measured. Statistics recorded. Talks

faltered, flailed, failed. Prayers met silence.

Candles were lit. Flashlight sales grew.

Batteries grew scarce. Campfires flickered

throughout day and night. Their smoke made

it harder to breathe or see. Night vision goggles

were issued to all eligible households.


Soon, the sky was so thickened that memories

were numbed.  Books picturing seacoasts,

flowers, forests sold out. Libraries had

waiting lists for stories of people whose lives

were bathed in sunshine. We struggled to

recall days at ocean’s edge, feet splayed

in wheat-colored sand, a beloved’s hand

dappled with light. Sunburned shoulders

from garden parties and protest marches

soon paled to ghostly reveries. Last to fade

was a vision of a playground filled with

children, sneakers aglow with sparkling lights.




JUNE 07, 2022




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