Mackerel Sky
in memoriam Rachel Wetzsteon
By Lorna Knowles Blake

I am now the foster mother of your book
of clouds. A book we both had thought to buy,
seduced by the review (halos, sun dogs,
coronas!). When I saw it on your shelf

it pained me: unlike you, I hadn’t bought
the Book of Clouds, though I too love them,
faithful shapeshifters. Now, it’s in my mind
we talk of clouds: no Upper West Side park

bench conversations, no Cape Cod bay-side
ooohs and aaahs over sun pillars, nimbus
inflamed by the sunset, no Rorschach games:
you saw cannonball sacks; I countered, sheep.

Your cloud poems are open on my lap
today; I glance at water in the cirrus
drifting east and think, sometimes a cigar
This evening, clouds bank, crepuscular.

The day I learned you died, the morning sky
was blank and bright. I ached, not to stop
all the clocks, but to fill that sky for you—
no single inch of blue, a vault of silver scales.

LORNA KNOWLES BLAKE’S first collection of poems, Permanent Address, won the Richard Snyder Memorial Prize from the Ashland Poetry Press and was published in May 2008. She teaches at the 92nd Street Y, at Sarah Lawrence College and serves on the editorial board of Barrow Street. She lives in New York City, New Orleans and Cape Cod. Rachel Wetzsteon was a poet and teacher who took her own life in December 2009.