Siobhan Harvey


Cloud Rules

Not a wrybill, warbler or tern,
no white-headed flyer perched at the outer-reaches
                                                     of our world.
Not a concert for our passions, downfalls or deaths.

Not an arrowhead, black mountain ringlet or winter ghost,
no apparition dancing by on summer’s day or pirouetting,
                                    at star break, around bright light.
Not a striking, moshing moment in time.

Not a silver beech, ti-kouka or spreading kowhai settled
at the swamp-edge, streamside or coastal plain
of our tramps, jogs or lovers’ walks.
Not the fence, door or furniture of
                                            our buildings.

Not Spirits Bay, Kaipara Harbour, the waters off
the North ‘Naki Bight, Cape Farewell or Dusky Sound,
no white-crested roller that plashes the brink of
                                            our holidays and fishing trips.
Not a flat arrangement divorced from the maps we create.

Not a migrant who came by waka, beguiled by the Transit
of Venus or promised gold, a quarter-acre section and salvation.
Not a relative whose birthday we forget, whose calls we ignore,
                                                   whose funeral we avoid.

Not a second offspring, a second tooth lost, a second day
at school, a second date, second marriage or second divorce.
Not a forgotten passage from the poems, stories or novels
                                                                     of our lives.

Remember, whenever we gaze upon a cloud
and are taken by the mystery of existence, illusion is
a trick mirror, a Pepper’s ghost in the sky.

Out for a dawn stroll with cloud-dog, nurturing
cloud-children to cloud-crèche, cradling
hands with cloud-lover on electric afternoons,

it is a cloud who pauses — taken by the mystery
of existence as it gazes upon us.



Siobhan Harvey is the author of the collection, Lost Relatives (Steele Roberts NZ, 2011). Recently, her poetry has been published in Evergreen Review (Grove Press, US), Five Poems Journal (Ned), Meanjin (Aus) and Stand (UK). In 2011 she was runner-up in the Landfall Essay Prize (NZ) and Kathleen Grattan Award for a Sequence of Poems, and nominated for the Pushcart Prize (US). Her Author’s Page on The Poetry Archive (UK) is:

Harvey writes: “The product of unknown ancestry, a childhood victim of domestic violence and a decade-long migrant, I’m the eternal outsider. This fact in no small measure accounts for my lifelong interest in nephology, an interest which has been reaffirmed by motherhood. For the past two years, thanks to my son’s passion for nephology, I’ve been writing a book about cloud-watching. Abidingly seen as interlopers, endlessly viewed as outcasts, clouds deserve our attention and interest. ‘Cloud Rules’ is a poem which seeks to turn traditional perceptions of clouds upside down and counteract an “earth-centric” view of the world.”