Tuesday, December 27, 2011

a vee of wild geese

a vee of wild geese
cross a pink pillar of light
above the vanished sun

What I see but you don't see is a vee of Canada geese flying across a pink pillar of light marking the spot where the sun just vanished below the horizon. By the the time I stop, the geese have flown on south. But the pink pillar of light lengthens and lingers long after the sun has set, until the golden glow fades from the western sky and the mackerel clouds turn from pink to gray.
          Scientists say that the solar pillar is not actually a vertical ray from the sun but rather the collective glints from millions of ice crystals high in the atmosphere. The small clumpy clouds that look like fish scales or a school of fish hovering above the pillar are altocumulus. These high, heaped clouds are formed by the lifting of air in advance of a cold front. The old proverb, "Mackerel scales and mare's tails make lofty ships carry low sails," refers to the common experience of clumpy or wispy clouds on a warm, humid summer morning followed by a thunderstorm later in the day, a warning that the ship should lower its sails to protect them from high winds. But this is winter, not summer, and the buttermilk clouds appear at sunset, followed by a tumult of stars.

No comments:

Post a Comment