Poem a Month – November 2016
As a fellow member of the Cloud Appreciation Society I simply had to feature this poem, undulatus asperitas by Katharine Towers, I love it.- Ali
'I wrote the poem just before I became Poet in Residence at the Cloud Appreciation Society. I saw a photograph of a new and unusual cloud formation, which hasn’t yet entered the International Cloud Atlas. Slowly, the idea formed that seeing such a strange cloud might be like some kind of religious experience – a crowd gathering, people looking up and marvelling, etc. The poem begins with the word ‘once’ which for me feels like the opening of a fable – of something mythic or folkloric. This was the atmosphere I was after – the sense of wonder and mystification when we stumble upon something that’s beyond our understanding.' - Kathy
Once we saw a great cloud, made of ice
like any other cloud but wind-sheared
and drooping in the heavy air.
It lolled against the hill but no storm fell.
Barometers dropped like stones and it was
purple-dark, even in the early afternoon.
The ruckled sky had us standing pointing
in the fields like scarecrows, and mostly afraid.
Girls fainted under the weight of ions
and some of us made thankful prayers
for the wonder of that rolling sea above.
They say that waves from underneath
are kind and do not mean us harm –
even seem to love us; and it’s bliss to drown.
Katharine Towers is a Derbyshire based poet. Her first poetry collection The Floating Man was published by Picador in 2010 and won the Seamus Heaney Centre Poetry Prize. Her second collection The Remedies is also published by Picador and is shortlisted for the 2016 TS Eliot Prize. She is Poet-in-Residence at The Cloud Appreciation Society.