"If you are a poet, you will see clearly that there is a cloud
by Sandra Cisneros
floating in this sheet of paper."—Thich Nhat Hanh
Before you became a cloud, you were an ocean, roiled and
murmuring like a mouth. You were the shadow of a cloud
crossing over a field of tulips. You were the tears of a
man who cried into a plaid handkerchief. You were a sky
without a hat. Your heart puffed and flowered like sheets
drying on a line.
And when you were a tree, you listened to trees and the tree
things trees told you. You were the wind in the wheels of a
red bicycle. You were the spidery Maria tattooed on the
hairless arm of a boy in downtown Houston. You were the
rain rolling off the waxy leaves of a magnolia tree. A lock
of straw-colored hair wedged between the mottled pages of a
Victor Hugo novel. A crescent of soap. A spider the color
of a finger nail. The black nets beneath the sea of olive
trees. A skein of blue wool. A tea saucer wrapped in
newspaper. An empty cracker tin. A bowl of blueberries in
heavy cream. White wine in a green-stemmed glass.
And when you opened your wings to wind, across the
punched-tin sky above a prison courtyard, those condemned to
death and those condemned to life watched how smooth and
sweet a white cloud glides.