THE SKY LEARNED
by Max Reif
The sky was happy, very happy.
"How wonderful to be my lovely, bright
blue self!" thought the sky, and did a somersault of joy in its
sky loved many things about its life. It loved the way the trees
waved their branches and danced, their green leaves harmonizing
with its blue. "We go so well together!"
the sky whispered to the trees.
"Yesssss, yesssss," rustled the trees'
leaves in reply.
Some of the mountains also wore green,
and thrust themselves high into the sky's blue. Others did the same
thing in bold, rocky grays. The sky adored them both. And it cherished
the birds who gracefully wheeled and flapped and banked upon its
currents, and the clouds that floated through it like so many different
shapes blown from some giant bubble pipe.
The sky also loved the majestic sun
who climbed tirelessly to its height and then slid slowly downward
till it disappeared, day after day. The moon was yet another dear,
dancing with the darling stars at night when the sky changed colors
like a chameleon from bright blue to inky blue-black.
The sky knew there was an earth,
as well, but when asked about that would always say, "The earth's
beneath me." That was the sky's little joke.
But as time, endless time, went on,
the sky began to grow curious about the earth. After all, not only
were trees and mountains reaching into the sky these days. Tall
buildings were, too. Not only did the birds ply her airways. Every
day hundreds of planes did, as well.
day the sky's curiosity reached its limit. The sky put on a cloak
of invisibility and climbed down a tall tree to have a look
The sky journeyed as a breeze, free
to explore anywhere its fancy took it. It found green fields and
golden fields, forests and deserts and rivers, and oceans that looked
as blue as sky itself. It found great cities with scores of buildings
reaching toward the heavens.
The sky found much joy in these cities.
They contained lovely parks full of squirrels and birds and, often,
picnicking families. The cities also had pretty neighborhoods with
lovely homes that sported wide lawns and lush gardens. But
cities contained much sadness, too. The sky found people who did
not have nice homes, in fact who had no homes at all. It found hungry
people looking for food in alleys.
Some cities almost never saw bright
blue above them because of great factories that coughed huge clouds
of smoke into the air. Scarier still were ones where people fired
off guns and bombs that turned the sky itself the color of fire!
After seeing such cities, the sky felt
very sad, so sad that it did not feel like turning bright blue ever
"I think I'll just stay a dull gray
now," thought the sky, "Even after I take off this invisibility
cloak. "Gray is more in keeping with how I feel."
sky began blowing sorrowfully up and down streets, with no idea
where it was going. Finally one of the streets dead-ended at a school
and playground in a quiet neighborhood. In fact, the only sound
the sky could hear was a kind of wheezing.
The sky looked around and saw a little
girl standing alone and crying in the middle of the playground.
One of her hands held a string. Near her feet a colorful kite lay
"There, there," said the sky, blowing
through her hair and whispering in her ear. "I can help you."
" There are many things I do not
know how to do," the sky continued. "I do not know how to shelter
everyone in good homes or feed hungry people. I do not know how
to make the air clean or make armies of men stop fighting."
there are some things I do know how to do," it said, and the little
girl, hearing, stopped crying.
The sky began to blow underneath
the kite. The kite jumped up off the ground and then came back down.
The little girl began to run with
the kite string, and the kite rose once more. Soon it was flying
high. Its bright colors and tail of white rags dazzled the sky.
The little girl was running along,
laughing now. The sky felt its own joy rising, so much that it couldn't
contain itself any longer. It climbed back up the tree, threw off
its disguise, and leaped back into the heavens to resume
its former vast, blue expanse.
may be terrible things on earth," thought the sky. "But if I can
make a little girl happy, then there is plenty of reason for being
a joyful bright blue and staying at my cheerful station!" And the
sky, feeling all the atoms of its own being dancing in happiness,
turned another great, laughing somersault.
© 2004 by Max Reif