The Cloud People
The planners leaned over the lip of the clouds
and estimated the land’s jutting elevations.
From their perch, they cast recommendations
like horoscopes, predicting fresh horizons.
Chimney stacks materialized mid-air,
spewing smoke like bilious dragons.
Heron-headed construction cranes surveyed
ravines before setting feet down delicately.
Condo towers swooped downward,
scales of rosy glass
nudging the bottom. We scattered
bus stations like dice, gambling they’d land
in our favour, and dropped buildings
like bombs, missing targets by huge margins.
Many were duds– warehouses, pre-engineered
industrial offices, strategically-placed distribution
centres where supply chains like glacial cascades
descend from pool to pool. Other schemes exploded
with spires and cornices, the impact of their grace
ringing the bells in our chests.
We were pleased
by the loose, random look of it. We liked the streets
best in the rain, washed and carefree,
or in the hopped-up dusk, birds flocking
home like schoolchildren in uniform.
When we climbed down miles of sky-wires
to live in it, to start families chugging like engines,
to smell the oily earth before spreading
our mold over the pocked surfaces, we found
that all along, we’d headed
in the wrong direction.
Above Bow Valley
From this height it’s hard to tell
what’s permanent and what’s a trick
of the light. Those distinguishable ruts,
dark peeling from farmland, I’ll venture,
are dry ditches or gullies, someplace
where runoff gathers, ankles turn and buckle,
old irons smolder. Blots fuzzy
as sepia-toned prints are anyone’s guess:
ranch houses, maybe granaries leaning
towards the ground, giving up
on being upright. In another moment,
we passed over the silvery grid
of townships and quarter sections.
Yet that hatch-marked surface, seamed
with concession roads had scrawled itself
onto my mind’s eye, signatures
to a contract no one can make heads
or tails of. We, nested inside
the plane’s Matryoshka body, wrapped
in air close as packing wool, stake
our claims to narrowing quarters. We’re in this
together, finicky lives in the air, possessions
swaddling us like security blankets, riding out
the turbulence. My fellow passengers
don’t think it’s too much to ask
for more legroom, the promising
dangle of upgrades, sunlight on our heads
like a benediction, and yes, please,
as soon as possible, we’d all like a better
view of where we’re heading.
Phoebe Wang is a Toronto based poet, reviewer and educator. Her chapbook, Occasional Emergencies, appeared with Odourless Press in Fall 2013. More of her work can be found at www.alittleprint.com
Image: “Bow River Topography,” Beth Howe