Rumors web down the peninsula: the Cloud
is approaching. The Cloud is going to make a pass
near the village.
Old solar laptops, out of hiding,
mop up dewy morning light. Men and women pore
over manuals, cheeks brushing.
Grandfather says to Solomon: watch
for the black government truck, that sometimes fights its way
over the moor. Sometimes they know.
Tonight, they don't. Grandfather stays awake by mate and caffeine
spray until midnight
over the village. Then he puts the precious tablet, nylon-bagged,
onto Solomon's small shoulders.
They climb the knoll.
The moon is a shard of scoured bone; Solomon's chest is a shard of
night, of sea-breezes slapping. His young ears hear the hum first, as
the Cloud crests.
It dips and slides
like quicksilver, it
divides into machines, scarred
in birdshit, aloft on synchronized
rotors, blinking carmine eyes
on blue-black sky.
On grandfather's knee, the tablet
comes awash with light: flesh slapping
flesh, foreigners burning cars, bristles sliding
across bright white teeth.
downloading, downloading, downloading.
Down in the village, shadows rush from door
to door to share the rain caught, collected, til slowly
red pinpricks blink out; the machines drift east.
Screen freezes, grandfather swears
but not so angrily, then they sit and rub their eyes
and watch the Cloud
until the moor sky is empty, tinged rawpink with dawn.