Take Heart: A Conversation in Poetry: Balloon

Edited and introduced by Wesley McNair, Maine Poet Laureate

Poet and artist Haines Tate of Waterville died of cancer in 2012 at age forty six, but not without writing this love poem for her husband, Duncan.

Balloon by Haines Sprunt Tate

                                        for D
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 full 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.

Take Heart: A Conversation in Poetry is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. 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. Questions about submitting to Take Heart may be directed to Gibson Fay-LeBlanc, Special Consultant to the Maine Poet Laureate, at mainepoetlaureate@gmail.com or 207-228-8263. Take Heart: Poems from Maine, an anthology collecting the first two years of this column, is now available from Down East Books.