from The Autistic Child Considered as a Cloud 

Most clouds are roped to this earth, heaving 
it into existence, as net hauls fish from ocean’s 
static veil, as magnet draws magnet from chill, 
metallic inertia, along a predetermined path. 
But stratus has no impulse, no ties, no lure. 
It is a flat, grey body, barely breathing 
grey air, leaching grey thoughts, exuding 
grey aspect, grey words and grey noise. 
Beneath it, cloudboy toils, his heart anchored to 
the deafening sound of silence which prevails, 
while the ether, compressed, senses a bitter wind. 
Just out of our reach is the cloudboy, we know, 
who understands Relativity, emulates Rutherford, 
considers Descartes and speaks fluent French, 
La plupart des nuages sont attaché a la terre … 
Just out of our reach is the cloudboy, we know, 
who dances in heavy rain, wets himself, mutters 
complaints like madness, and is a bogeychild 
other mothers warn their darlings about. 
Like all bad weather, we wait him out. Bereft 
are parents who lose sight of their child: how light 
is smothered in him as if we exist solely 
in a cold and windowless room. 
Yesterday cloudboy ate shampoo and soap. 
Clear as convection, bubbles floated from 
his mouth as if from a cartoon character. 
Tomorrow, he’ll be Superman, Doctor Who 
or Water Hazard, the miracle of his achievements 
unfathomable as the Marianas Trench. 
But for now, the skin of a heavy sea presses down 
upon him, the oxygen sustaining him is as cloudy 
as chlorine, and when he floats in sluggish dance 
about us, we think of salps and brittle stars. 


Siobhan Harvey is the author of the poetry collection, Lost Relatives (Steele Roberts NZ, 2011) and the book of literary interviews, Words Chosen Carefully: New Zealand Writers in Discussion (Cape Catley, 2010). She’s also the editor of Our Own Kind: 100 New Zealand Poems about Animals (Random House NZ, 2009). Recently her poems have been published in Asheville Poetry Review (US), Evergreen Review (US), Five Poem Journal (Ned), LandfallMeanjin (Aus), Poetry New ZealandStand(UK), Structo (UK) and Tuesday Poem (NZ/US). She’s the Poetry Editor of Takahe and Coordinator of National Poetry Day (NZ). In 2011, she was runner up in the LandfallEssay Prize and Kathleen Grattan Prize for a Sequence of Poems, and nominated for the Pushcart Prize. As part of the 25 New Zealand Poets Project, her Poet’s Page was recently launched on The Poetry Archive (UK).