I’m tired of these endless high-faluting blue skies— I want clouds common as whisked egg-whites, or mashed potatoes on a plate. Clouds that by dusk are the colour of fish-gutters’ gloves. Wage-earner clouds working like Lanarkshire bog farmers, or Mongolian horsemen. I want blue skies to admit their bumbling stewardship and own up to their enormous cost. I want dissenting thunderheads with their cloud-to-cloud lightning, clouds recruited from monsoonal lows and Scotch mist, clouds circumnavigating the planet then signing up for Greenpeace. I want clouds to resist the oligarchic reign of blue and come striding in like men and women who fling their bodies in protest against the dirt, then get up praising the wings of birds. Clouds whose fluffy tops kiss in public, and without embarrassment, enact the restlessness of the soul inside the body. Let blue skies stop their rhetorical grandstanding. We know they’re filled with the breath of men cocked and fettled by greed. One by one I call the clouds in. A cloud for each child hungry, ragged, naked. A cloud for all exiles whose voices can’t find a single raindrop, whose eyes are stones that out-weather the past. A cloud for those in war-ravaged places where shadows terrorise doorways, and the old live between rubble and crumbled bread. Blue skies will break the windows of your house; they will offer you their emptiness and your life at a knock-down price, their lips will pronounce only names written in expensive ink. Let the clouds come and cross over each other in a gust of wind, scrubbing away the ubiquitous azure that remembers nothing except the value of the moon’s silverware and the silken dreams of dictators and their priests. In the distance two clouds are touching, twisting into a lintel of sanctuary where the blue can’t trespass. I want clouds thick as laundry, soaking under stars that wash away spilled blood. Handkerchief-clouds waving fondly as we drive off towards fields, waterfalls and laughter, sick of counting the cerulean jewels on the ocean. Blue skies rebuke all who come down from the burning mountains, those who believe in snowflakes, rainforests and in the scorpion’s sting, who know the heat calving the glaciers is as convincing as pain. A good cloud will precipitate the deepest source of our moral passion, our principal wisdom, and our affection for those who argue with the dust.