I am a balloon

Home is not where the heart’s been broken,
home is in birthday balloons released
higher and higher into a bright blue sky.
Home is anywhere but here, under
the rhododendron bush, hiding in the
garden where thought should be taken,
not of the lilies toiling not nor spinning,
but of lupins in their infinite varieties,
poppies, deadly nightshade, foxgloves;
nor in the house, where there’s bleach
in the mug on the draining board,
fire behind the fireguard, pills
in the bathroom cabinet, a razor
under the facecloth left in the sink.

I’m dreaming of escape in a hot air balloon,
getting lost, soaring out over the rooftops,
needing to travel far and fast, to break
out from the straitjacket of home.
But straitjackets are everywhere, joining
sleeves, flapping, dancing in the breeze,
singing “clap hands, here comes Rosie”,
this Thursday’s child travelling hopefully
but always arriving to disappointment
and the locked doors of an unsafe asylum.

There’s respite at least on the common,
in buttercups held under chins,
in coltsfoot and long grass for crouching,
in wasting time and brains under
a mad-dog sun. Long grass that hides traps,
secretly rusting, waiting to ambush
an unwary foot. Dripping blood means
another trip to the white-coated hospital
in the old black leather pram, the locks
of the asylum snapping shut once again.

Walking in the cold wind of a grey day
among sand dunes at Wimereux, alone
in a bleak landscape with bliss, Houdini’d
from the quarrels in the van, the hugger-
mugger of the tent, the tedium of chores,
I am a balloon. I throw out the ballast, let go
the ropes, let the wind gust me over
the water. I am rising, higher and higher,
drifting farther and farther out. I am
unravelling into the sleeve of the sea.

This poem refers to the homage to Marcel Duchamp.