Sam Burnside

A city is a place of wall within wall within wall:
There is no elbow room in pigeon holes
There is no legroom in pads (behind brown doors,
Up steep stairs); there is no headroom in squats.
No scope in the the nook and cranny arenas
Of backyard and court-yard.

Large bodies, like oceans or mountain ranges,
Can effect climatic conditions, they can change the weather
Cause mildew on you headgear, create storms inside your skull.

One time, when city fathers still had town criers
At their disposal
To spread what was their humour that day
And the body politic habitually stopped by
The town square or market-place to talk
Of thunderstorms, hurricanes or typhoons,
You’d find old men who had been sailors or navigators
Telling of tornadoes and waterspouts they had seen,
And monsoons they have weathered, or asserting
They had known of whirlwinds that carried camels
Into the air, off their feet, tumbling out of sight over sand-dunes.

If you look back into the vortex of time, you’ll find
That the wise man – or the wise priest, for that matter –
Kept an eye on the weather, a weather eye on his interests,
For his own potency was linked to the earth’s erratic fecundity.

In all of this,
In glebes, in baggy meadows, in commodious grasslands,
Snow was the thing that might well have lifted a man’s mind
Away from matters of state,
Clouds, drizzling intangible, yet crisp, crystals
The dust of diamonds
(Crushed between the finger and thumb
Of some big god or other)
Magical, yet,
Making in the light of the sun or the moon
The manifold phenomenona of atmospheric optics –
Namely, halos, arcs, circles, mock suns,
A few coronas, iridescent clouds. And the like.