Painting the Sky by Bill West

Nothing to do but wait, and look at that sky, heavy with snow, suspended above me, draped between spires and rooftops.

As a boy I sky-gazed for hours; Johnny head-in-the-clouds. I saw giants and castles, heroes and dragons tilting in the blue. Sometimes I felt a kick of fear - a fear of falling into the sky. I had to turn the world around again, make down my up, and walk away.

Later there were hot summer skies to gaze into. I stretched out with my girl in fields tucked in the folds of a hill. Her finger traced the shapes she saw in clouds, swan wings and the faces of men with beards. With stalks of sweet grass I traced the line of her neck, her breast; her nipple tightened under the lace. We clung to the hill as the sky wheeled past.

I got too old too quickly, but found time aplenty for staring at clouds. I saw the beauty of winter skies, the blends of pale light and fog blowing in. Life drives out everything, if we let it, and leaves no time for staring at the sky, reaching up, letting the shapes form, filling our minds.

Look at me now, pinned down.

Someone is coming. Windows catch bouncing blue lights, doors slam and boots crunch on snow.

A kind voice comes close to my ear, fading now, his questions unanswered.

There is so much sky to paint.


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