the hot air balloon operator's requiem

i used to want to fly fighter planes
but then my eyes turned to olives.
laid on mother's kitchen floor, cool tile beneath 
my spine & asked the sky to tell me 
the secret she tucked behind her ears.
birds would fly in my bedroom
whenever i opened a window. gently, i'd cup them
in my hands like rain water before
pouring them into the yard. lawns are terrible.
my father cared for ours with surgical tact.
i saw him kiss the green once & another time
watched as he tore a dandelion up by her heart.
all day i see souls slip upwards 
like tossed pantyhose. sheer & eager. 
reach a hand over the side of the basket
& feel their air. the first few times up
i had thoughts only of plummet. a plane is a scissors
where a balloon is a ladel. unlike a plane
the balloon lives in the air. i learn to drink
sky's specific colors. sliver of yellow.
freckles of orange. often, sitting on the basket's floor
i dream of flying higher. balloon pressing atmosphere.
balloon prying its gentle way into space.
i have company here. my loneliness breathes
with feathered gills & fire lit under each lung.
if i ever do bring someone along, not a patron
but a friend or a lover, i will ask them
to lay down with me. coil like cloud embryos.
i'll tell you my names for each ghost.
i feel the spaces where buildings used to laugh.
texture of a long dead hawk. tall tree's 
footprint in the breeze. the sky is a new dirt.
finer than sand. fertile. handful & pocketed.
together we will learn to swallow sunsets.
hold hands & kiss messily as storm greys. 
shovel on the ground. you can watch me
dig holes to slip the thinness into. 

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