Why I Like Weather

It's a restless, atmospheric spring day, I've been listening to Bach and looking at gorgeous images of Dutch tulip fields, and my own poem came to mind. This is from Earth Lessons.


Famous for always being there, it takes no hikes
or long vacations, leaving forty beeps on the answering
machine. Evasive, evocative, weather
is as much what you see through as what you see.
This afternoon my dog and I headed out
to find a pyramid of taffy-rolled cloud
wrinkling the sky’s forehead. We circuited
the neighborhood, bemused by vast aerial doings.
The cumulus spread away, thin as bouillon.
Sun winked on the flanks of an airplane -- last buffalo
roaming the high plain. “He’s smiling again”
I said to my dog, as if the sun
were a cloudy-headed Apollo
dashing from horizon to horizon.

I often take comfort from weather
as a folk remedy. It’s good for blame, lovemaking,
moods, price dips, metaphors in talk of politics. Whether
you can think straight may be attributed to it --
"I'm under a cloud today." Forecasters will say,
“There’s not much weather out West” --
as if air, moisture and electricity
flowing at the speed of thought around the globe
does not achieve the status.
Farmers and scientists pigeonhole energies
with chewy words: drizzle, Nor’easter -- like naming
your bloodstream Sally or your elbow Sam.
The sway of a temblor underfoot
makes me think weather churns underground,
loose and roving as comets and sea spouts,
ball lightning, St. Elmo’s Fire, the katabatic winds
called foehn, Chinook, cow-killer.

Does the equator’s airy calm -- the doldrums-- seep out
of the planet’s bellybutton?
Is that a huge stomach I hear underfoot?
I like the Hindu belief that ultra-fine weather
circulates in our bodies, too subtle for computed tomography.
I suspect similar currents whirl inside earth’s core
spinning magma like clothes in a dryer.
Weather crashes planes, sends killers
on rampages. Is it subject to the moon’s pull?
Does El Nino come from rays of hypnotism?
I like to believe anything’s possible, exercise
the muscle of wonder so it does not atrophy
and make me overly scientific, a calculating cynic
who sees a cloud and thinks only of ice.

We’re made of weather -- electrons twirling
like tiny twisters, blood-tides rushing and pumping.
How can anyone predict how we'll blow?
Or what will come of our combative forces --
disease, health, madness, illumination?
Wild planets with fierce cycles of emotion,
we wobble on elliptical trajectories
toward idealized destinations,
subject to massive buildups of uncertainty.
We can be exalted as the galaxies and atoms
who share our mad momentum. -- But enough of chaos.

We need the comfort of names and laws.
A name can call you, but no one can be predicted by it.
And that’s why I like weather: its events evoke
daily self-explorations that slam restlessly
hither and yon, seeking shape then frantically undoing it
for something better -- or perhaps just wilder and wetter.