Three poems by Patric Pepper
It being her job,
she made her son put on his scarf
under his winter coat before he sent himself
to his job,
into the March wind
to a sky filled with quickly moving gray-black clouds,
to fly his kite,
to this time make it stay up.
He believed he would someday tame the wind
and make it stay up.
She held the kitchen storm door,
itself almost a kite in her hand,
as he maneuvered his diamond-shaped Hi-Flier
with “Playmate of the Clouds” printed across it,
onto their acre of wind,
where he held it aloft in one hand,
let out some string,
ran, and let go,
let out more string and more string
The kite climbed the wind like a stampeding steer
held fast by a bit of string in its nose.
It dipped left and right and rose fast and fell,
wild as the scudding clouds behind it,
then plummeted and crashed,
as if wrestled from the sky by the wind itself.
More tail! she thought,
standing with her fingers to her lips,
watching from the picture window.
Quickly she tore one of her good rags into tail.
rags in one hand, storm door in the other,
she called to him,
“It needs more tail!—it needs more tail!”
He came to the door
and held it up to her, his “Playmate of the Clouds.”
She tied more tail,
twice as long as he was tall.
He took his diamond tissue paper kite
back to their acre of wind.
It flew rough,
but it flew and didn’t crash.
Five or so minutes passed before
the mother heard from Mrs. Grobarek,
who watched next door from her own picture window
the gray-black sky
with fingers to her lips.
She called to warn that a tornado watch was on,
so said the radio.
The mother imagined
how her “pumpkin” of nine years
might become a “Hi-Flier” himself,
clutching the string as the bull charges away—
away, away, away—
growing smaller and smaller in her eyes.
She called to him.
She called him in,
“Enough for today. You made it fly. You made it fly!”
though he knew better.
Called him in for a snack
in the kitchen,
the two of them soon to be cozy at their table
by the picture window filled with seething clouds.
Called him in for his favorite brand of tea,
Red Rose, with lots of milk and sugar,
and his much-loved cookies,
shaped like a windmill.
On the Other Hand,
There was the woods with all its trees, some sacred,
Some not so sacred.
The not-so-sacred ones we’d climb,
And build forts in,
with scavenged boards and bent nails
Made straight by hammering them out after we’d pulled
Them out of the boards.
High up we’d sway, and feel that sway,
Then swing out on a rope donated to our enterprises
By a very unenterprising father,
who belonged to one of us,
And thus belonged to all of us in some ineffable way.