I couldn’t say exactly when the thermal met
the dew point and I knew I was cloud.
Like walking rain, I’ve traveled far
without touching ground.
Today I saw a kestrel ride a convergence
(that invisible quarrel between warm and cold air).
I have lived her lust for rising
toward velocity, trusting unseen forces to alter
matter’s shape. Heat alone doesn’t
always deliver lift. Inversion can hang
for days. Pressure
against all one’s efforts to stay aloft.
It’s true, when moisture leans
against heat it disappears. My father’s ghost
was wet. I felt it leave his chest. Vapors have a way
of coming back. Hailstones big as eggs.
I count them as they hit the ground.
Christine Hemp has aired her poetry and essays on NPR’s Morning Edition, and a poem of hers has traveled over a billion miles on a NASA mission to monitor the pre-natal activity of stars. Her work is published widely. She was selected for the 2019 and 2020 Humanities Washington Speakers Bureau with her talk “From Homer to #hashtags,” which explores our changing language and how it changes us. Her memoir, Wild Ride Home (Arcade/Skyhorse), is forthcoming in Spring 2020. She lives on Washington State’s Olympic Peninsula with two horses, two cats, and one husband.