The Weathermen of Atlantis
The king was in his usual
bad humor, the court gossips tittled.
In the drafty audience hall, the weathermen
trembled. In minutes they must explain.
They must predict. The sky was blue,
so clear far mountaintops, bizarrely white
folds crimping the crisp skyline, glowed
on buildings blanched as desert bones.
No two days had been alike.
Today was sunny. Yesterday drizzled.
The day before, crowds witnessed the first
flurries in the capital for decades
accompanied by abnormally high tides. Sporadic
earthquakes rocked outlying provinces.
The merchants were fuming. Farmers suffered.
All blamed the king. The king, in turn,
had summoned his clutch of weathermen.
To correctly prognosticate meant prosperity,
the weathermen knew. Wrong as this the axe.
Middle of their pre-audience jitters,
the cleverest, a mellifluous fellow who’d dabbled
in real estate, now selling sky futures, proposed
a speech that pleased a great many.
“Tell the king
what’s worked before. Weather’s the mood of the gods.
These days, they can’t compose their humor
for blessings or for punishments. Forecasts of us?
We probe the turbulent entelechy of
celestial beings in turmoil? Greatness,
that’s the single sacrilege
beyond the audacity of impious humankind.
Tell him that. We can divine today:
the chill blue of drained emotions, wrung dry and cold.
Tomorrow? Next week, next year? Uncertain, majesty!
Sin is somewhere about. What other reason?
Kill us? Best practice virtue. Oh king,
morality at the top works miracles!
Crops, contracts, rains, wars, marriages depend on it!”
One blurted, “Say we don’t know the weather!
We’re only entertainers.” The whole hall guffawed—which eased
Meantime, outdoors, earth’s pores yawed:
in wagon ruts, in potholes,
muddy puddles turned blue, rich deep oceanic blue,
stretched out to each other, began to join.
Where headland dove, precipitously, to ocean
waves frothed, spraying the tallest rocks.
Terns, sensing shift, gathered in skittery flocks,
intent elsewhere, abandoning unhatched eggs.
Above squalls of gusty sunlight
cirrus, like phosphorus,
incandesced, paled in sun.
Gales whiffled in spring-green leaves.
To trumpets, the king strode in.
“Eternity, good weather
is right around the corner…”
to peer into celestial intellects…?”
“…Bid your priests divine the future. Majesty, we
are men of science.”
“…By today’s weather,
the chill blue of drained emotions, wrung dry and cold.”
“Kill us for not knowing…”
The same one cracked:
“Admit we don’t know…!”
Another, louder, “A question
of fronts, high pressure, zones of turbulence…!”
Charts, graphs, blossomed from folds of robes…
The king blinked, his outrage baffled.
…Thus, like any engulfed by a force too vast
for exegesis, charged with expounding it,
the weathermen raised a flurry, arcane vocabulary
and benumbing rite—meteorology which, as forecast,
fuddled the king (too shamefaced
to admit, even to himself, he was hearing
rank blather, nonsense), who let them off,
Pillars of Atlantis.
As the sweating weathermen filed out of the palace,
loaded with gifts and enormously relieved,
a few glanced up—noiselessly, almost
imperceptibly, a cool drizzle
(after what a night!) a lone tower’s pennants
flapped, barely tip-topping
the brilliance of endless ocean.
By noon, every gull flew on.
Carey Jobe is a retired attorney and judge who has published poetry over a 45-year span. His work has recently appeared in The Orchards Poetry Journal, The Lyric, The Road Not Taken, Sparks of Calliope, and The Society of Classical Poets. He has authored a volume of poetry, By River or Gravel Road, and is currently working on a second collection. He lives and writes in the lush landscape south of Tallahassee, Florida.