Kites and Bubbles —by Jinny Batterson
(An earlier version of this poem appeared in the 2014 Silly Tree anthology, “The Way the Light Slants”)
Our two-bedroom cottage grew claustrophobic
For the six of us long before winter’s end.
Even after physical fevers were gone, cabin fever stalked us
On this late-winter days when the light faded too fast.
Mom rallied us kids. Gathering empty wooden thread spools,
She washed off the labels, rubbled one spool end
Across a moistened bar of soap, blew softly into the other.
Soon we tried, too, gradually getting bolder with practice.
Bubbles drifted upward–evanescent rainbow spheres
Brightening the confines of our drab February prison.
Kites came later, once March had started whipping old leaves
And newspapers across vacant lots. The sun edged higher.
Dad got out last Sunday’s comics, some heavy twine,
Balsa wood strips left over from an abandoned modeling project,
Strong glue, remnants of discarded fabric–
A little effort morphed them into kites with stabilizing tails.
Stowing our creations in the way-back,
Dad loaded us into the family station wagon
And drove to the launch site:
An old hillside pasture in the early stages
Of becoming a construction site, suitably sloping
And temporarily free of trees and rocks.
We paired off—one holding a kite to the wind,
The other running, letting out filament
From a carefully wound reel. After several tries,
The wind caught. The kites spiraled upward.
On good days, we could keep several kites
In the air for hours, letting out, then pulling in string.
Beetle Bailey, L’il Abner, Charlie Brown and Lucy
Dipped and bobbed in the crisp air along slender tugging threads.
Times are plusher now. Few sew at home. Thread spools are plastic.
Sky or bubbles float in pixels across our computer screens.
It’s easy to forget the lessons of an earlier childhood:
Be aware of the beauty of simple things. Don’t let go of the string.