Today’s poem is Balloon by Haines Sprunt Tate. Haines Sprunt Tate was born in Virginia in 1965. She attended Oberlin College and later obtained an MA in creative writing from Hollins University.
She lived in Waterville, Maine, working as a writer and artist, until her death in 2012. She is the author of Strata and Other Poems. Her work has appeared in a number of poetry journals.
She dedicated the poem to her husband Duncan, on his birthday in 2010, after she was re-diagnosed with cancer.
This is the poem I meant to give you
for your birthday: a kind of balloon
that would rise on a slight draft
to float above the occasion,
taut and bright and of easy breath
with a long ribbon trailing down
for holding onto or tying to your chair.
After you’d opened all the presents
while everyone oohed and ahhed,
after the cake and candles,
the joker gifts and For He’s a Jolly
Good Fellow and they’d all gone home
glad it hadn’t been their turn
to blow the flame off another year,
that’s when I meant to say, Look,
Love, what I made for you:
Take it and don’t let go –
But now your birthday’s done
and I’d be heartless to remind you
with a thing deflated, wrinkling,
that bumps the corners of the hall
more off-kilter every day,
so far from its highest aspirations.
Though I almost think you’d crack
a smile to see how it’s outlasted
all the fuss: the cake, the cards
and all the company but one
old procrastinator, old hanger-on.
Poem Copyright 2013 by the estate of Isabelle Haines Sprunt Tate.
Reprinted from Strata and Other Poems, Ghost Leaf Press, 2013
available from ondemandbooks.com, by permission of Duncan Tate.