In the absence of sunlight,
in the absence of a genuine river,
I blew air into a balloon. I gave my breath over
to its empty shape. I filled & pinched
& no matter how fast I tied it off,
how tight & swift, the air, my own, drained out.
And here I was again and here you were.
Watching? No, imagining.
You were just an idea. So think
what this balloon might represent
if we passed it back and forth
and took turns adding our breath.
What the quick tying might.
And our marveling at its lovely shape,
like an egg but also a tear-drop.
Our hands on it, our fingerprints
darkening its surface all powdery
and matte at first, with a bare sheen.
Think of the balloon sent into a crowd at a party.
How that crowd might move
to keep it in the air, protective
and playful, almost flirting with itself, a crowd
with light volleys will send & resend
a balloon upwards, high above their heads.
Until it drifts down
And with such innocent gestures, they do
though eventually they too will tire of this.
I can’t just say innocent; I know that.
But I’m going to say innocent.
Innocent as a balloon
not meant to last.
Think of it handed
back and forth between us.
Ari Banias is the author of a chapbook, What’s Personal is Being Here With All of You (Portable Press @ Yo-Yo Labs, 2012). The recipient of fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts, the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, and elsewhere, he is a Stegner fellow in poetry at Stanford. His first collection of poems is forthcoming from W.W. Norton in 2016.