Phil Gruis


Summer afternoon on the deck.
She's talking.

I'm entranced by clouds
crossing the sky behind her--
white fists flying north,
softly gut-punching a fir-spiked mountain
that traps the lake.

Olive, I hear her say,
and I doubt my attention is required.
Olive isn't a serious word.

The clouds reach up a twisting canyon,
claw hand over hand toward the ridge,
hissing through firs
like foam dissolving.

Her voice rises. Not a rant, something less.
It may be my name I hear.

Wind shoves the clouds one into another,
pilgrims at the wall.
It rouses the lake.
She's silent as puffs lift her hair,
let it fall, lift, fall.

Howls crouch on the ridge.
The clouds boil over.

Now, she says, Or, south, maybe.

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