The Weight of Clouds

I’ve been thinking about clouds a lot lately.  It started with a line on a blog (WordDreams By Jacqui Murray) about a metaphor telling me not to use “hard as nails.” Of course not.  It should be, “hard as a cloud.”  Nails aren’t hard.  Hit one with a hammer and you’ll see it bend.  Grab a nail with a pair of pliers and twist it around until it breaks.  Nails are not hard.

Nails are easy.  Nails are simple.  Hammer blow or shot from an air gun, they hold two pieces together for a time.  Two chunks of wood or two thoughts.  We think of nails as immoveable, but ask the demolition crew and discover that a nail is just an inconvenience in clearing buildings from the ground.  Nails are transitory, ephemeral, and destined over the eons to bend, be bent and be returned to the ground humans conjured them from.

Clouds are more permanent.  They are harder than nails. Yes, you can fly through a cloud.  The wind can move it around, but you can’t grab it with your pliers and twist it till it breaks.  You can’t strike a hammer blow that bends it. They are eternal, constant and destined to float over our long occupied graves.

A little known fact: An average cumulus cloud weights 1.1 million pounds.

Clouds are heavy.  They blanket the world.  They bring the rains and floods sweeping away all that nails hold together. They carry the hail and lightning that turns nails into insignificance while the cloud’s thunder roars.

Clouds bring the gentle rains, nourishing the earth. They bring shade and welcome cooling on a summer day.  In winter they blanket the night sky holding the earth’s warmth close.

Clouds.  Try to grab a handful of cloud.  Stand on the mountain top and let it flow over your desire.

Such is the weight of a cloud.


Looking up from my mother’s grave
you can always see clouds.
Just there, moving towards the hills,
rabbits, cows, and sheep
float past in their silent parade.
They are always there.
Sometimes white and fluffy.
Sometimes dark and threatening.

Eternal.

Mother gave me my first
hammer and nail.
We made nothing, just reveled in the joy
of hammer striking nail,
of nail joining wood to wood.

It was grandfather who showed me how
to straighten a bent nail,
how to remove one.
He showed me how to drive home
a nail in three hammer blows.

Clouds have thunder and lightening.
Clouds bring the life-giving rain.
Clouds bring the floods,
to wash the world’s pain.

Ephemeral nail held up to the
light of a cloud draws my heart
to the desire of the sky.

The cloud drifts towards an unknown future
while my feet stand joined to earth,
and my soul longing.


Till next week,

Andrew

About Andrew Reynolds

Born in California Did the school thing studying electronics, computers, release engineering and literary criticism. I work in the high tech world doing software release engineering Then I got prostate cancer Now I am a blogger and work in my wood shop doing scroll saw work and marquetry.
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23 Responses to The Weight of Clouds

  1. I like my clouds shaped like bunnies….

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  2. Curse you, Joni Mitchell! A beautifully crafted poem – love it!

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  3. pommepal says:

    Who would think clouds could be so heavy. It makes me wonder how did they weigh them ???

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  4. What a great post about clouds. I never thought that clouds could be so interesting! 🙂

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  5. A great mix of trivia and poetry written with a wonderful flow and so interesting.

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  6. Yeah – I’ll probably still say “as hard as nails”, but I might pause and think about a cloud after I say it. Or not. 🙂

    I really loved your mention of your mother and grandfather in your verse, and their part in your life as a woodworker. For whatever reason – that touched me deeply. Don’t tell anyone else – folks will think I’m an old softie.. Thanks for sharing Andrew.

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  7. You and I both writing about clouds on the same day? Coincidence? Great minds think alike….

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  8. Well that was fun, Andrew. 1.1 million pounds! All that water vapor and drops and such. Amazing.

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  9. PiedType says:

    I’d never thought about clouds having weight … but of course they do. And they fly in spite of it. Without wings. I share your fascination with clouds. It’s one of the reasons I love the mountains so much. You can touch clouds, walk through them, stand above them.

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    • I hadn’t look at them that way until I was trying to build a metaphor around, “Hard as a nail.” That got me wondering how much a cloud might weigh. That got me thinking in another direction. Clouds are interesting.

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  10. Carrie Rubin says:

    1.1 million pounds? Wow, that’s a cool trivia fact I’ll tuck away. I’ll use it on my smarty pants hubs and oldest teen son. 🙂 Creative piece and lovely poem.

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