The Red Balloon
carried on a breeze
gentle as a child’s morning breath.
It sways mid-air, a ballet dancer
breathing in, gathering a lung full
then gathering its guts. It topples,
takes off in a gust, unconfined,
and shares its secrets with the wind.
The red balloon sails away
until it becomes a speck, no more
than colourless dust. I can’t see
my note anymore, but I know
that it trails unwillingly on string,
It may end the day in a tangle of branches –
for cheap thrills, I’ll take my chances.
The red balloon is just out
of grasp, it taunts me, gliding
like a cartoon ghost and skirting
my eager fingers. Weighted,
it ducks and dodges, disappears
over the tracks with one final dive
out of reach, gone, it could be alive.
The red balloon was lodged in the gorse
depleted, sad, wrinkled like elephant skin.
I thought of a crying child, a clown,
and reached for its umbilical string,
dragged it free, pulled it screaming, found
a golden band, a note neatly folded in four –
‘I can’t be this person anymore.’
Published in Parthian’s How to Exit a Burning Building