Stone Telling

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The Weatherkeeper's Diary

by Jo Walton

The Welsh word for sun means "a bright cloud".

On Tuesday, mists unravelled through the valley
I sat in the doorway rewinding cloud skeins
(fairly patiently,)
until I could see as far as the fir trees and the stream.

The chests along the landing need re-labelling.
I went to get some flattened cumulus
and out came fold after fold of herringbone instead
before I knew where I was
the sky was full of it.

Just a glimpse, today.

I don't understand why people say skies are grey,
as if that's all there was to it,
when there are thirty greys at least.
Some people distinguish grey and gray.
Maybe we need thirty vowels
to fit between gray, grey, and griseous.

It's funny how I forget about edges.

This morning, early, the sound of singing rain
down by the water
and then afterwards the smell,
where the earth had been drinking
and all the world a-glint in new-washed green.

I hardly ever need to use the broom
some days I could forget it
but today it lies against the kitchen wall
casting significant shadows.

Enough for a whole tempest coils small enough to fit in an egg-cup!

Lonely, how could I be lonely
with all of this to keep me company?
Except sometimes I miss conversation.

Why is it always Mondays that the breezes get away?
I'm worn out from cramming them back in
and still they won't lie quiet
they're rustling and creeping through the cracks.

Today, the light came through.

Jo Walton is a science fiction and fantasy writer. She has published two poetry collections and nine novels, the most recent, Among Others, came out from Tor in January 2011. She has won the John W. Campbell Award (2002), the World Fantasy Award (Tooth and Claw, 2004) the Prometheus Award (Ha'Penny, 2008) and the Mythopoeic Award (Lifelode, 2010). She comes from Wales but lives in Montreal where the food and books are more varied. Her livejournal with poetry, recipes, wordcount and occasional actual content, can be found at

Read Jo Walton's discussion of this poem over at the Roundtable! Also in the Roundtable article, a bonus poem by Jo.

Photography: Robert and Shana ParkeHarrison, "Suspension" (from the Architect's Brother series). Reprinted here with permission; all rights reserved.