The Cloud of Unknowing–dVerse Poetics

tule fog

Image by emdot via Flickr

The Cloud of Unknowing

Who covered our valley with layers of gauzy fog?
Before me, another car edges forward.
I follow dim tail lights, hoping that somewhere ahead
another leads the tentative parade.

Last week, a mountain spanned the landscape
on the lower third of earth’s canvas.
A two-lane highway wove its way through
rabbit brush, tumble weeds tumbled. Snakes slithered.

Today I see only dim tail lights, hoping that
tomorrow I will come home.

The Cloud of Unknowing is a spiritual treatise by an anonymous medieval mystic. It advises the follower that God cannot be understood through knowledge, but rather through contemplation. Oftentimes those who live in faith have to endure prolonged periods of doubt. Having spent time in California’s Central Valley and on the coast, I always found Tule Fog and coastal fog to be an apt metaphor for life’s journey at times like this.

Today at dVerse Poet’s Pub, Brian Miller asks us to see that which cannot be seen except through the third eye. Check it out at

38 thoughts on “The Cloud of Unknowing–dVerse Poetics

  1. Tino says:

    Been on that journey a few times, in places where I wish I had faith at the time. More often than not, we trusted to luck to get us home. I am still here, so something worked 😉

    The explanation was appreciated and makes perfect sense to me, even though I am an unbeliever.


  2. siggiofmaine says:

    Victoria…I am happy you re-posted this. It still brought back the same driving memory I mentioned earlier…and the dense fog with vehicles passing me on the curves and I went back, the road was actually longer and more frightening than I recalled it to be. The highway was “straightened” a bit and one of the few improvements that was really needed.
    The metaphor for our life’s journey is perfect…I am enjoying reading the comments that accompany this post, also.
    Thank you so much.
    Peace and love,
    Siggi in Downeast Maine


  3. tinkwelborn says:

    not being in control of our lives or a particular situation, feels daunting. We must rely upon Trust, when a pilot flies a commercial airliner. perhaps this is why he/she is separated from the passengers by a wall and locked door – to enhance/promote a Trust and obviate/preclude doubt.
    This piece reminds me, when ‘thrown’ out of our comfortable elements, we become novices, fledglings once more to the ‘New’ and ‘Unfamiliar.’ And with this, ‘Fear’ is enhanced.
    Strange, what truly fragile creatures we are sans our knowledge.
    ‘Fear’ –the shadow– is metaphorically the impenetrable fog; ‘Familiarity’ (‘Safety’), the mountain, rabbit brush, tumble weeds, and –yes!– the old snake.
    The dim tail lights –the only familiar thing — a metaphor for hope.
    This is the opposite to your other poem of driving home into or behind a sunrise (can’t remember now), and the feeling of joy. Thanks for sharing.


    • Thanks for your thoughtful analysis, Marvin. I hadn’t thought of the contrast with that other poem. Interesting thing, it was the same highway (395 from Reno to SoCal) one written going south, the other going north…different trips. I drive it a few times a year.


  4. Patti says:

    i like this a lot. It’s a wonderful metaphor for life’s journey, which often is as through a fog. Yet, we continue on our way, because we believe.

    A truck driver once told me the story of a very foggy night in Georgia. He was driving a familiar road, and considered that a lucky thing, since he couldn’t see ten feet in front of his grill. In his rear view mirror, he could see a long line of headlights, drivers who also believed the trucker knew the road. Suddenly he came upon a curve he hadn’t remembered, and his truck left the road and plowed out into a big farm field. And in his mirror, he saw about fifteen cars following along right behind him.

    That’s what I’d call blind faith.


  5. Definitely unseen…calm expressions. Very soothing; wish life was that smooth. Awoke today
    to a very balmy atmosphere here too.


  6. tashtoo says:

    A wonderful write, Victoria! So often we rush about, hoping to find that which were seeking, only to end up even more muddled and confused. Give me a quiet moment of reflection, and I almost guarantee the act of doing nothing will lift the fog faster than anything. Truly enjoyed this today!


  7. bmackenzie says:

    love the metaphor the cloud of unknowing – it seems to always be present just when we feel clarity has come to visit..bkm


  8. Beautiful! You really captured the feeling of fog.


  9. Bodhirose says:

    I love that, Victoria–“The Cloud of Unknowing”. A good part of our path seems to be one of faith and blindly moving ahead in spite of the unknown.


  10. ALIVE aLwaYz says:

    future unclear and foggy, better hold on to that dim light, trust shall drive you home, a hopeful read here.


  11. dani says:

    wow! a very powerful piece in so few words, Victoria! faith isn’t difficult to hold onto when everything is going the way we want, is it? “The Cloud of Unknowing” contains all our fears and puts our faith to the test, for certain. a wonderfully written, thought-provoking piece! thank you for sharing. ♥


  12. Mary says:

    We do have to trust that the fog will lift! Wonderful write.


  13. Oooooh that giant leap of faith…very well described. Yes..if only it wasn’t so difficult….


  14. vivinfrance says:

    Victoria, I read your poem, and it immediately sparked an idea for Brenda’s Wordle, Off I rushed without commenting. Mea Culpa: I should have said how much I liked your poem first!


  15. jen says:

    Victoria– this is compelling and beautiful– I especially love the first stanza–

    Who covered our valley with layers of gauzy fog?
    Before me, another car edges forward.
    I follow dim tail lights, hoping that somewhere ahead
    another leads the tentative parade.

    Certainly not an easy state of being to convey but a wonderful metaphor– and that the reassuring mountain is hidden by the fog– so apt. Thanks a million for reading me tonight. xxxj


  16. Two reasons this immediately spoke to me: I live on the top of a 10,000 foot mountain and we have fog often; I have been through Thomas Keating’s centering prayer workshop where we learned about the Cloud of Unknowing. I loved it.


  17. Pink Woods says:

    Hello! I’ve read in one of your comments to bardicblogger about one of the books you’ve read which is titled Angelology? I just wanted to ask who’s the author of the book? 🙂 I’m doing a research about the topic, so your response will be a great help. 🙂 Thanks.


  18. hollyheir says:

    I don’t want to be on a mountain when I fall. I have “felt” that metaphor in life – in white out blizzards trying to get to Denver, in fog in Colorado Springs going to rinks in the early morning, on highways in the Texas panhandle, on I25 between Baltimore and DC. You really must have faith to keep going and prayer is a good accessory. Thanks for the lovely metaphor. G.


  19. lucychili says:

    so much of our navigation
    is following hopefully


  20. souldipper says:

    My copy of this little book is here with me, Victoria. My spiritual teacher “suggested” we read it and read it slowly. Not only is the message so aptly portrayed in your metaphoric poem, reading it was a crawl through the fog for me. I kept wanting knowledge to kick in like a fresh wind that would clear the fog and open a clearing.

    Thankfully, I was confused enough to slow down and not be blinded by my brain!


  21. hedgewitch says:

    A very apt metaphor, used with a light hand, and all the more effective for it.


  22. Jamie Dedes says:

    The Tule fog is apt. You have captured the journey well and the issue of faith – all we have sometimes – so touching. I found this quite moving, Victoria. Thank you!


  23. I’m in love with that phrase “the cloud of unknowing” and have intended to read that book for a long time. I was actually introduced to the book by an outstanding passage in Delillo’s novel Underworld.

    (haven’t seen the film you mentioned)


  24. siggiofmaine says:

    A great metaphor…can remember some very trusting drives in the fog working in Bangor and coming home in pea soup fog. Thank you. It IS about trust.
    Excellent poem to express just this.

    ☮ ♥ Siggi in Downeast Maine


  25. Glynn says:

    I like this kind of twist on the prompt — what’s usually visible is made invisible by the fog. Good poem.


  26. Laurie Kolp says:

    Victoria- I love ‘gauzy fog’ and I see what you mean about it symbolizing periods of doubt (although sometimes I walk around in something like that even though I do believe).


  27. christine says:

    sometimes encountering the fog we put the breaks on, when we should just coast through it, and wait, for the revelation on the other side, my foot is always on the break, need to change that


  28. fog and the cloud of unknowing – great devices that work well and lend extra depth to your cool piece


  29. TheMsLvh says:

    liv2write2day, you mentioned in a reply to another poem you worked as a Hospice nurse. In my eyes, you are an angel walking this earth. Just had to tell you.

    Thank you and all that give of themselves through Hospice!

    Loved your poem! I am now a follower!


  30. Heaven says:

    It is scary driving through that fog but we trust that there is road and a path that will lead us to our destination.

    Happy day ~


  31. zongrik says:

    been there. done that.


  32. brian says:

    whew…i have driven foggy mountain roads…and it can be scary…thought this is about more than that…we often can see the next step but seldom much beyond…and yes we hope someone is leading the way…smiles….


  33. Claudia says:

    love your fog metaphor for the parts of the journey we can’t see but have to trust…if it only wouldn’t be so difficult..


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