The clouds know which way the wind is blowing, trailing the days

behind them like fish strung together, gill to gill. They have the drift

of bored fishermen calling to each other:

                    This is not the place.

We are broken anchors, You and I, long ago cut loose, apart,

half-buried, as the unknown continents of shadows,

sweep toward us, eclipse us, and leave us in their wake.

But it is the sun, really, that gives us the chills,

that makes us button up and go inside.

Down the street, the mailman pauses to pick his teeth

and scratch his ass as he ponders a name he ought to know

in front of the house whose curtains are always drawn,

the house from which comes not even the slightest whimper.

I send you this from far away and I say,

                    The clouds are a mystery to me here

and I have not kept track of a single one,

even the first, the one in the shape of our mother,

the one that suggested things would be okay.

Stephen Longfellow has lived and worked all over the world. Perhaps his most novel gig was as a cog railway brakeman on Mt. Washington in New Hampshire. Poetry is a sort of accident with him as he came by his MFA around age 50, without benefit of an undergraduate degree.  Stephen presently teaches at St. Olaf College. His poetry has appeared recently in The Los Angeles Review, In Posse Review, Summerset Review, Word Riot, and Pif, among others. 

This poem began as a line that came to mind, “The clouds know which way the wind is blowing.” The line stuck and from there it was a matter of discovery, mostly as the accretion of imagery and wordplay, during periods of revision. I don't remember when in the process it became a message to an estranged brother far away.



Copyright 2009