Kite

When it had flown first
he felt like an idiot
to have spent a nervous night,
doubting the wind at the park
was strong enough for kites.
But Roger said, “You wait. It’ll go.”
They’d seen the scud of clouds fill up
with rows of diamond and delta
and box kites — Indian fighting kites,
a shock of hibiscus on the pale
tweed suit of the sky.

His was no beauty:
dowel and glue and butcher paper,
but it flew on the third try
when his brother turned a little toward the bay,
the two of them running north, northeast.

Then taking the spindle back,
he eased the cord in starts,
as it tugged or pulled away,
and for almost half an hour
he watched the thing become a stamp,
a thumbprint in the gray,
and then, imperceptible, a narrow smoke,
a speck that might have been a bird
above the grounding tension of his grip.

Well before he was sure, the string went slack,
bowing and never going tight,
though the brothers squinted for ages
into the inlet air.
They found it in an oak,
a full sixty feet above the parking lot,
too high for pulling down.
“We’ll make another,” Roger said, and so they left.

And it seemed to the kite,
tethered in the tree,
that they were leaving for the first time:
the flight before, just kids
agreeing to lose themselves
for an hour or two
and then, in silent counting
reel each other in.
But the boy with the strong hands
turned and walked away
and crossed the street,
until at last, far into the bright day
he disappeared from view.

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