Mass Ascension

Abstract painting in purple, gold, and blue

International Kite Festival, Long Beach, WA

We looked up, for once, all day long, in thrall
to the spectacle of lavish rags. Susan said
it made her back feel good, and Helen said
the whisper of their envelopes against the sand

was a sweet spooky too. A man named Steve
told us how many pounds bore down
on the shreds of purple and red, taut
in the summer sky’s bright spandex,

but we promptly forgot, walked along the rope
meant for those of us who don’t look down,
don’t see how a line can lift and shred
a human wrist, or the twin points of a stunt craft

dash a child’s skull. White abrasions of a jet trail
melted across the swathe and curled
to match the flourish of man-made kitsch,
google-eyed cats, turtles and fish.

We wanted to fly kites too, of course,
but all the party taught us was how little
we really know about the eccentricities
of wind: we couldn’t ascertain who

it loved or what would make it smile.
We suspected that it rose before
the sun and walked the beach alone,
speaking to itself in tongues

the rest of us would never need to learn.
All we could be sure about was how
quick it was to disagree with any wonder
we had bought with our belief.

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