calliope, calliope 2017

Cloud Labels

photo credits here, edited.

by zack soh

Imagine if we could tie a cotton string around a cloud, and slap a label on it. Clouds would be for sale everywhere. No speck of moisture would ever go unnoticed; nor would any of it be free. Perhaps the big companies would start a business of the possession of clouds. Buy a cloud for a dollar. It’s all yours until it fades away. And maybe only then would we appreciate how clouds lumber across a canvas, how swiftly they escape under our notice. 

There’d be advertisements for clouds. At first, the words “fluffy” and “poofy” would be thrown around. Then creative directors would work their magic: “floofy” and “puffy” would be their next victims. And as advertisements evolved, so would words. Marshmallow would lose its original meaning. So would cotton and pillow; they would only exist in the sky as mythical similes. 

The clouds shaped like animals would be snapped up first. But then again, anything can look like anything else if you stare hard enough. That innocuous cloud can morph into an island under a salesman’s powerful words (that’s why we call them crafty), or a sketchy monster with a child’s imagination. This is why the best advertisements would be the ones made by the smudges of children. In this world, we would label imagination with the highest price. 

Rainclouds would probably be the most expensive. See those strands of static drizzling down? All yours. We bring the rain down on your enemies. And let’s not forget the drama of lightning; your own personal light show, coupled with distant explosions. Hopefully you’re lucky enough to strike someone. 

But there’s something magical about the way the universe shifts. It’s like a large, slow gear that drives the sun, rotating endlessly across the horizon. And then they fade away, as if finally having fallen asleep. Us, so fast and tiny, and they, huge and slow. 

And then your dollar’s up. You can pretend you never owned anything in the first place, because we haven’t invented the art of labeling individual water molecules. Yet. 

 

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