"Cloud" by Sandra Cisneros
If you are a poet, you will see clearly that there is a cloud floating in this sheet of paper.
-Thich Nhat Hanh
Before you became a cloud, you were an ocean, roiled and
murmuring like a mouth. You were the shadows of a cloud cross-
ing over a field of tulips. You were the tears of a man who cried
into a plaid handkerchief. You were the sky without a hat. Your
heart puffed and flowered like sheets drying on a line.
And when you were a tree, you listened to the trees and the tree
things trees told you. You were the wind in the wheels of a red
bicycle. You were the spidery Mariatattooed on the hairless arm
of a boy in dowtown Houston. You were the rain rolling off the
waxy leaves of a magnolia tree. A lock of straw-colored hair
wedged between the mottled pages of a Victor Hugo novel. A
crescent of soap. A spider the color of a fingernail. The black nets
beneath the sea of olive trees. A skein of blue wool. A tea saucer
wrapped in newspaper. An empty cracker tin. A bowl of blueber-
ries in heavy cream. White wine in a green-stemmed glass.
And when you opened your wings to wind, across the punched-
tin sky above a prison courtyard, those condemned to death and
those condemned to life watched how smooth and sweet a white