My mother loved to fly.
The first time she flew
she took rolls of photos
of a silver wing,
a magnificent cloud, and
a glimpse of the earth below:
these became known as
Mom’s flight pictures.
She never took a lesson
claimed she was no good at numbers
but took advantage of every
opportunity to climb into a cockpit,
taste the thrill of takeoff,
brace for landing, and
marvel at the landscape spread
out beneath her even if it was just
another airliner taking her from
point A to B.
As a child she’d heard that
clouds were for the angels to rest on,
reclining, plucking their harp strings,
singing ethereal hymns for eternity.
Now that she could see both sides
she knew that clouds were there for everyone,
that a cloud could be a handy
place to hide inside of
when pursued by the ones and zeroes of
Like when it comes time
to save this sliver of imagery,
where does it go? Certainly not dropped onto a
laptop hard drive or stick of memory but flung
somewhere into the far reaches of this volatile
storage unit they call a cloud where
it joins with other devices in
the giddy joy of barnstorming
the fluffy towers of fake permanence,
climbing and diving and buzzing the ground,
fearlessly wingwalking into the wind,
tears streaming past grinning ears,
loving every minute of not knowing where
you’ll be next or who you’ll meet or
what they’ll think.
Sometimes it obscures your vision
when unannounced a cloud drops down
and envelops you in the midst of a conversation
you were trying to maintain, so, rudderless
you drift in and out of visibility,
on instruments yet clinging to the stick,
pedaling as fast as you can,
struggling to get out of going through
all these things again and again.
On those occasions it helps to turn
your gaze out the window to the con trails
curling in the blue over rising desert thermals
to remember the excitement when first you
set foot inside one of these silver clouds
so many years ago. Where was it you were
going? Does it really matter? Destinations
and events blown about, crashing into one
another, forming new fantastical shapes,
scattered about but somehow held together
like bits of puzzle caught in a dust devil.
The last time my mother flew
was in a two-seater over
the mountain she could see
from her care facility window
when she became the cloud
of ash puffing out behind
the tail of the tiny plane.
© 2016 Jim Ramsay, all rights reserved.