© 1995 D. E. Cracraft
This story has been published previously in Talking Raven
by D. E. Cracraft
OK, so let's look at the names of the clouds.... we've been studying these things in books, but they give us nonsense like "stratus," "cirrus" and "cumulus." We're not looking for some inane classificatory scheme, cooked up by people who need lists, no, we want to know their names... names like each of us have, like Frank, and Doris, and Mr. Tweedle, so we can go up there where the big fellows and the mother ships go cruising the terminator, and know their names... up there--see?--on the interface between cloud and air looking for that low pink sunlight angling in for the last of the Day (yes, that's right, we're dying) and and and this is interesting here, just as the names of one cloud would get--naturally--confused with another, so the very edge of the cloud (you will want to sit there it looks so billowy and soft) seems to disappear the closer you get to it! And, and in fact doesn't even exist except as some kinda mental construct, but, well, the hell you say I Can See Them Right Up There, which is why you're gonna get a lot of these pathetic looks up in cloudland--as does your average anthropologist, sitting by the campfire eating roast iguana and asking about things he'll never understand-- if you go up there with a notebook and pencil asking professorially about this or that par-tic-u-lar cloud, but clouds are usually helpful, and they'll make an effort, even to the point of making up something plausible, like, "Weeeell, yes," says one respondent cirro-cumulus over Topeka, "I do vaguely remember her (the cloud in question), but it was only for a little while you understand that we travelled together-- there was this cold front, right, that was taking us all northeast in a kind of rolling, swirling motion-- yes, just north of Tulsa it was I believe I saw her last, she was a beautiful dark steely grey, oh 15,000 feet high if she was an inch, with just the touch of rose at the top, really a lovely cloud, shattered by fine-grained lightning--it was a night, believe me (the respondent says, smiling, eyes drifting upward in thought)--we were racing a nine-engined freight train across those Plains (yes, yes) and I'm sorry but I haven't heard a word from her in years, and her name simply escapes me -- does that help atall?" miz cloud sez, and then you're losing her, she turns a pinkish tinge, starts to fade away, and as she changes, her name changes, and as she fades away so does her name... the Terminator always does this to them...
D.E. Cracraft is Chief Archivist of the Douglass-Truth Institute. His work has appeared in bOING-bOING, PDXS, As I See It, Evolutionary Rag, Creator, Factsheet 5, Tiff, and others. He can be reached via DTI.
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