audio: Balloons
audio of Amit Majmudar's poem, Balloons

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Barefoot the children are running, their fists in the air.
They laugh a ticklish laughter, not the mind’s.
The strings they clutch are as thin as the air at this altitude.
What are they running from? Ask a forget-me-not.
Sunflowers read their passage from west to east.
The flowers are foreground: beyond them, the precipice.
A broom of a wind swishes across a footprint.
That little piggy was hearing, that little piggy was vision....

Decades, decades after my mother created me,
I make her a metaphor, an image to hear
In which the young are the old, and the bodies are minds.
She forgets she was listening just as I tell her the children
Have opened their hands. Time to say bye. The balloons,
Faceless and empty, are nodding their heads in ascent.