A GIFT OF BALLOONS
Blonde and strawberry-skinned
you stretch, supple and lanky in your black Speedo,
the dazzle off the ripples like sparks flashing from you.
Your words above the gentle
break of my sidestroke across the turquoise pool
are filled with boys and mother rebellion. You are nineteen.
This is how I think of you now.
for your tubes to be changed
hoping the nurse can find a wide vein,
waiting to be rolled
waiting for dinner
for the team
to open your young chest beneath close washing light
and fill you
with of all things --
Balloons instead of lungs for you, a gift
because you know the name of your disease scary and scarcely sounded.
Your mother found it in a book when she was trying to name herself.
And now you are the book or will be after they test you
send you back to start again
with your gift of balloons
yellow, I hope
full of glint
and the scent of chlorine
Let them fill as wide as cloudless sky.
Let them carry and lift
across the tides,
and last as eternally as my memory
of your summer afternoon.