Taking poetic license, I reinterpret Kilmer’s poem “Trees” often as I try not to drive off the road while staring at clouds. I have told my husband that if I have a mysterious car accident with no apparent cause, know that it’s probably my obsession with those white fluffy things that have, I assume, been in the sky all my life.
How did I not notice them before? I mean, I noticed them, but I didn’t “notice” them. About a decade ago I was on a Caribbean cruise and after sailing all night, we had docked in Cozumel. When first arriving at the side of the ship in the morning, someone said, “Did you look at the water?” Sure, I had looked. He then said, “No, did you really look at it?” I had not, but when I did every word I have in my vocabulary for blues and greens would be pointless to use to convey what I saw. That’s how I now feel about clouds.
Marshmallows, pillows, cotton - none of the nouns we often hear used get anywhere close.
Fluffy, puffy, billowing - none of the adjectives help either.
You’ve seen them. You know what I’m talking about. They’ve been there all your life as well, but have you ever really looked at them? I thought I had until a moment I distinctly remember when the sky overwhelmed me. I wasn’t in some picturesque setting, a beach, the mountains, a barren desert. I was in the parking lot at my school, scattered with red dirt that drains from the adjacent baseball field when it rains. I was simply walking to my car when I was awestruck. It was as if they had just appeared in the sky magically for the first time.
From then on, I have prattled on often to whoever might be near about clouds, clouds, clouds. I have asked my daughter to take a picture of them through the car window while I’m driving and point at the specific formation while she humored me because she couldn’t tell which one was so magnificent that I had to have it preserved digitally. I have also heard the response, “They look like they always do.” No, no, no. They never look the same. I don’t want to miss any of them.
I would encourage you to look at the clouds today as if for the first time. Maybe they’ll overwhelm you. Or maybe you think you’ll never see a poem lovely as a tree or maybe a baby or a sunset or a flower. But just like remembering to smell the rose, notice whatever moves your being every time you can, especially if it’s something right around you. Look up, look down, look all around. Don’t miss another moment of beauty.
As for me, if I don’t meet your eye next time I see you, I’m not trying to be rude. It’s only because my head is in the clouds.