atmosphere
– Edmund de Waal

You make a list of the clouds and the winds and you name them.

Anemoi

Boreas

Notus

Zephyrus

Eurus

Kaikias

Apeliotes

Skiron

Lips

you write and then Boreas

stackencloud and fallcloud

twaincloud

wanecloud

sondercloud

and cumulostratus

cirrocumulus

cirrus

and stratus and nimbus.


But the wind changes and the clouds change and the light changes as your pen moves and the lists grow longer and longer until you put the pen down because the light has changed and the paper on which you draw your words is a different cloudy white. How can you track the clouds? Each breath in and each breath out is a change in the weather. So you make a small vessel – a pot – out of white clay – no more than a few breaths, a few moves of fingers and hand and you put it down beside you and you make another. They are greys and whites and blues

and celadon

translucent, opaque, solid, breakable. And when you have a dozen, twenty

thirty two

forty eight

you place them in a case and you close it up and choose where to put it in the world. Somewhere on the edge of a place. Somewhere that you can walk past and not see it, be surprised. Somewhere on a threshold – in limine –

You put it below you and walk across, or near books, or food, or family or. Or. Or. But you want to see the clouds and the winds so – you make nine vitrines – nine places for your cloudy pots and then you hang them against a sky, near the sea, on a window that catches each breath of the day and say this is my style, this is my atmosphere.