Flying Lesson

By Dolores Hayden Dolores Hayden
Focus on the shapes. Cirrus, a curl,
stratus, a layer, cumulus, a heap.

Humilis, a small cloud,
cumulus humilis, a fine day to fly.

Incus, the anvil, stay grounded.
Nimbus, rain, be careful,

don’t take off near nimbostratus,
a shapeless layer

of  rain, hail, ice, or snow.
Ice weighs on the blades of  your propeller,

weighs on the entering edge of your wings.
Read a cloud,

decode it,
a dense, chilly mass

can shift, flood with light.
Watch for clouds closing under you,

the sky opens in a breath,
shuts in a heartbeat.

Source: Poetry (April 2014).


This poem originally appeared in the April 2014 issue of Poetry magazine

April 2014
 Dolores  Hayden


Dolores Hayden’s poems about American places have appeared in Poetry, Shenandoah, The Yale Review, Southwest Review, Raritan, Best American Poetry, and Architrave. She’s received The Writer/Emily Dickinson Award from the Poetry Society of America, as well as the Barbara Bradley Award and the Boyle/Farber Award from the New England Poetry Club. Her most recent collections are American Yard (2004) and Nymph, Dun, and Spinner . . .

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Poems by Dolores Hayden

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Activities, Sports & Outdoor Activities, Travels & Journeys, Nature, Weather

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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