60, 71, 30.18, SW 1, Little Rain

by Madeleine Wurzburger

I will die on a day of fair weather, pray to God.
A last log of air.
I will lay aside rain. If I had learned to shut light
in a cylinder! My eye was always other.
I saw blue where God made red. No matter.
An end to noting patterns of the sky.
A Quaker does not quake at that.
My measuring beaker is full, its gauge fixed.
A life no greater than heavy rainfall.
My eye was always other. I did not witness
brightness, though I could estimate the flow of a river
better than a water-bird. Also water vapour
and condensation. These I will lay aside.
No flying bird knew more of wind speeds
than I, or has read the face of so many clouds.
A Quaker goes with God, not loudly.
For others, the manic dance of hail;
grass in its colour spectrum; the mountain spring
where I performed experiments with dew
and a clean, dry tumbler glass.
Instruments must be laid in their cases.
I give up cirri clouds, each white streak a feather.
I do not give up light, though it cannot be shut
in a cylinder. I will die on a day of fair weather.


The poem’s title is the final entry that John Dalton made in his daily weather diary, July 1844, entered a few hours before he died. Some lines of the poem are based on his observations and weather tables.