To the birthday boy or girl, man or woman,
How many days ago did you release the balloons, forever
ascending and blending with the sky, the clouds, the world?
At least I hope it was you who freed them. I’d feel terrible
if some cruel guest had snatched the party flavors
and released them for their own pleasure. Imagine them
on their flight like a festive chain-gang on the run from the mundane law.
I found the refugees stranded in the middle of a January corn field
that Man created on the east side of US 231 North. No houses or people
anywhere around to claim the field or balloons.
I left the car door open when I got out to investigate the scene of the crash.
The big boss, the Mylar one emblazoned with “Happy Birthday”,
sent distress signal, flailing wildly, and reflecting sunlight off his back.
I didn’t save them. I only took pictures on my phone. I saved the pictures.
In retrospect, I’m sorry that I didn’t send the boys back home to you,
or maybe back to the VFW lodge where your spouse or parent
made reservations so the family from out of town could come.
I left the band of brothers to die with honor in the colorless field.
I will remember them, and your celebration, forever.