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Essay: Scattered Clouds

Illustration by Kacie Brown

I sit at the kitchen table with my husband before dinner. We’re drinking a beer and eating pretzels and talking about the day. And while we’re talking, I look over his shoulder out the window where gray-bellied clouds are moving across a blue sky.

There is gold light behind the clouds and I think that everything life could ever mean is about to be revealed. Maybe it’s the beer; maybe not.

Should I interrupt my husband’s narrative to alert him to this revelation? I remain silent and try to gaze out the window while appearing attentive to the conversation. I realize that cloud formations thrill and alarm me because they change while I am watching them.

There will never be another cloud like this one, I think. Even as I’m having this thought, the cloud is transforming itself into another shape or moving away or dissolving into nothingness. All of life is like this, of course—but it’s not so visible, so obvious, so terrifying.

“What are you looking at?” my husband asks.

“Oh, just some clouds,” I say, “They looked pretty with the light behind them. They’re gone now.”

Karen Anderson contributes "Essays by Karen Anderson" to Interlochen Public Radio.