Lance Larsen
The Morning After My Nephew Took His Life

Five hot air balloons float above our fair city,
each an elegy, each an invitation to climb
aboard and drift above the jolts and cinders
of one’s life. One balloon bobs like an apple,
one snuffles along all pink pig, one salutes
like a marine, one invites me to upload
my loneliness at a 1-800 number and harvest
a spouse, one wants to sell me an oh so lovely
house. None announces my nephew’s
final hour, none drops skateboard Polaroids
of him thrashing the heavens one ollie,
one pop-shove 360 at a time. And me?
A coward at heart, I’ve kept mum as well,
failing to dip my kids in the numbing news.
If I blink three times, maybe the piggy
will turn into a pineapple, my nephew’s
favourite fruit. I blink, I even swear on the wispy
tail of a passing cloud, but the pig remains
a pig, our county is still minus a nephew,
and none of the balloons is dropping
spelling bee trophies or finger paintings
of the Sea of Tranquillity or prom pictures
stuck between snarl and smile. The balloons
breathe fire like duelling dragons and climb.
Except the pig balloon, which drops,
then drops again, wafting, slipping, finally
touching down in the field behind our house.
And all the neighbourhood kids, including mine,
converge as if a popsicle truck had spilled
its payload. Here we are with a swaying
ghost beyond our hedges. No promises
to fix anyone’s now and forever grief.
This is only a visit, an ad-lib drift-down visit,
and all we can do is stumble forward,
like supplicants, and touch the slippery silk.