The Masquers of Clouds
By Jeff Baker
The clouds were here before we were. They have soared over the Midwestern prairie, over its highways, over its furrowed ground waving wheat, over the processions of tribes, over the masses of long-gone Bison. They floated, massive towers of near-insubstantiality, filled with the untapped power of the lightning and rain. And what moves the clouds, no one has truly known.
The Bison may have known, they may have been told. And the first human Natives, yet even in their quest for wisdom from the skies they did not know. Children have known, however. Especially the children of the prairie. For it is over the prairie that the Masquers of Clouds become careless, and are sometimes seen.
A figure, lithe and clear, blending with the blue of sky and the bluish tint of white cloud may be seen diving from the tip of a cloud and falling, skirting the edge of the cloud only to swoop gracefully, near-unseen by those in the waking world, swooping over field and even highway. Their shrill shouts of joy go unheard or mistaken for bird call or insect buzz.
The Masquers of Clouds shape the cloud’s forms from the inside. It is not the wind far above the land, no. For if the cloud’s shape changes the Masquers remain unseen.
Glimpsed only in those instants when they cannot resist the unbridled joy of a trip between sky and Earth, only to hurtle upward once again.