He says his favorite clouds
all wear size seven shoes.
He knows she believes
she once saw a paisley rainbow
and will never forget it.
She wears size seven shoes
and her tears can be torrential,
yet they can still nurture
the first flowers of spring.
He imagines her a butterfly
sitting on the back of his hand,
gossamer wings poised
at the thin edge of stillness.
He will not tell her this, afraid
she would think him a fool
or worse, flit wings and fly
in search of a rainbow,
just not a paisley one.
They both know that one
always hides within the clouds
that halo the mountain
whose streams feed her tears.
Those are the clouds,
he knows, that always, always
run barefoot across the sky.
Night descended on her
like an elevator untethered,
her memories in freefall into darkness.
She could not forget the stories
the elder ones quietly told,
the numbers always clothed over,
their smiles forced or freely given,
depending on the direction
of the ever-present winds of emotion.
She knew she was a prisoner of her past,
her inheritance both joys and horrors
interwoven into the fabric of her psyche.
She wanted to face life with
a rough grace, but how often had she
been torn by anger, frustration, desolation,
the feeling she was captain and crew
of a ship with no sextant and only
moonless, starless sky to guide her.
But from broken moments she pulled
shards, assembled them, bound them
in gold and carefully built the life
her ancestors had wanted for her,
a testament to possibility, to compassion,
a fusion of heaven and hell into an Eden
where their Cerberus could be
cast out forever from her garden.
The ark of hope had sailed
almost empty, their reality
was free falling, their dreams
consumed in the furnace
of their greed, their arrogance.
Time was hanging suspended,
they were grasping at the hands
of the clock perched now in
over the growing abyss.
Once they had been gods, or
imagined themselves so, now
they were fuel for Vulcan's flames.
Once they were prophets
of an unbounded, unbridled future,
now simply comic pariahs, clinging
to a world that had rejected them.
Some still held out hope, some
still tried, and in the faint glimmer
of their efforts a small ember
of salvation barely glowed.
They wanted to believe there was
a future, that this was one tale
in an ongoing saga, not
the posthumous mutterings
of a now doomed species dancing
on the razor's edge of extinction.