Sunday, February 20, 2011
The Cloud People
They were devoted to the clouds. For generations they had dressed themselves in white and varying shades of gray, imitating the clouds with the highest form of flattery. When they passed through deserts, the women would use the dry earth to make a pale paste to cover their hair and dark skins. When they passed through forests, another chamber in the thousands through which they flowed, they would find light-seeking mushrooms and cloud colored rocks and carry them as talismans through the canopy of green.
They were devoted to the clouds, descended from them as rain drops and bursts of electric lightning, energy that had once penetrated the earth and then grown the people of sky. They celebrated the silver haired old women and the long bearded men, for there was no status higher than a body covered in the wisdom of time and clouds.
Life above was full of gifts. It was life, high above, that traveled and circled, bringing within itself water and rain and seed. The clouds brought music too. It fell from the sky, creating a percussion band on the broad leaves of the forest, on the metal of their cooking pots. It pattered on the compacted earth, a low thump that filled their ears with the music of air, water, and wind. Wherever they went, the pale gods followed. Or rather, it was they that followed the movement of the clouds. It was their life patterns that changed with the storms.
Filled and black, streaked across the sky in trails of pink and orange, dispersed across the sky in a pale gauze. They worshipped them despite their shape, for sooner or later, they would grow heavy and full and drop the seed of life upon them.
When the clan looked to the sky and could find no clouds, they sat and waited, closing their eyes and filling their mind with visions of moisture, letting their tongues create the taste of a sweet raindrop. They focused on the sky through nights of twinkling, clear lights, through days of bright sunlight. Material for their visions ran through them, passed down from generations of cloud devotees. It was not hard to see a thick gray blanket above, the drops just hanging, waiting for the right gust to carry them down. They could taste the sugar of water on their tongues, and with each electrified taste, they brought the molecules of the sky together. They waited, dreaming, pushing, creating what they loved, what they needed. For the clouds brought rain, and the rain washed them clean. Its bath could take away all their language, all their human thoughts that lingered uselessly on their skin.
They walked following the trail in the sky. Through states whose boundaries they did not know or name or recognize. Through human civilizations that were constructed from concrete and glass, entire worlds where the rain could fall and never find the earth’s womb. They walked through these places hand in hand, looking towards the sky with hopeful glances, mouths full of cool memory and storm clouds of thunder.