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The Boy Who Paints the Clouds

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Noctilucent vapor, brushed away swift as spider’s silk

by the boy who paints the clouds.

The night shift is over, and the sun groans awake

cranky doctors and drivers, exam-takers and mothers.

It looks like a mash potato kind of day:

brush dipped into creamy milk,

precariously balanced on a ladder, he plates the stodgy blossoms.

A gaggle of geese pummel through the air, completing the picture of a Sunday dinner in the sky,

we’re just missing peas and gravy.


The night shift is over, and the sun sneers at

overweening competitors in the Super Extreme Goldman Triathlon 5000.

Let’s give them something special to start the day, shall we?,

and the boy shudders at the sickeningly sweet sun, reclusing back to bed.

No way to light the finish line, he hurls black cats from the night paint-pots

above the neon-green jackets in headlamps.

The Weather Accessories Committee sends in the girl who paints the rain,

and the race starts as she soaks their backdrop in muddy water.

Fingers crossed, good luck, runners!


The night shift is over, and the sun,

who has promised to behave this Summer,

nods to the boy dressed in googles and a straw hat.

Across pale blue, he sweeps a layer of Ozone—

watered down a tad for the sunbathers—

and swirls on a huge vat of vanilla ice-cream.

It’ll take a few hours for the scheming sun to melt it all away from the sky,

enough for a quick swim and kip under the masterful shade,

the boy often needs a break from his co-workers.


The night shift is over, and even the sun sheds a tear,

at a Winter Wedding.

Fitted in a tiny top hat, the boy ascends the ladder,

dusting icing sugar crystals above the bride and groom.

They cut the cake to a cumulusation of applause

and the boy pleads to the Committee for snowflakes:

these humble clouds aren’t enough for such an event.

A Hand-painted stratus pajama set sends the sun snoozing into dusk,

a perfect day to peek at from above.


The night shift is over, and the sun yearns

for some peace and quiet, for goodness sake!

The school below hosts the annual “Air Day” and

model planes and drones vroom across the blue canvas,

shearing down the sheep fleece,

a cloud formula the boy had spent weeks mixing for his Nephology exam.

Drat! He shakes on the turbulent ladder at the mess of aerosol in the sky,

yet when the chaos of air travel finally subsides,

he smiles at the plane prints, a mark of a fun day.


The night shift is over, and the sun scolds the boy.

He’s got cloud block and the troposphere is empty.

Tins of unopened paint—marshmallow fluff, cotton wool, rubber sap—litter the sky,

and still, the boy’s brush makes no moves.

On this clear day, children crowd into the park and stare up,

unaware of the hot-tempered atmosphere evaporating the airily inspiration.

Ready to wave the white flag, the boy suddenly hears despair,

“how can we play the shape game without any clouds?”

The sun beams at the boy as he paints a whale.

Illustrated by Marie Cardouat, Dixit Board Game

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