Ted Kooser: American life in poetry March 17, 2013

This kite-flying poem caught me right up and sent me flying as soon as Robert Gibb described those dime-store kites furled tighter than umbrellas, a perfect image. Gibb lives in Pennsylvania.

Kites

Come March we'd find them

In the five-and-dimes,

Furled tighter than umbrellas

About their slats, the air

In an undertow above us

Like weather on the maps.

We'd play out lines

Of kite string, tugging against

The bucking sideways flights.

Readied for assembly,

I'd arc the tensed keel of balsa

Into place against the crosspiece,

Feeling the paper snap

Tautly as a sheet, then lift

The almost weightless body

Up to where it hauled me

Trolling into the winds —

Knotted bows like vertebrae

Flashing among fields

Of light. Why ruin it

By recalling the aftermaths?

Kites gone down in tatters,

Kites fraying like flotsam

From the tops of the trees.

American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (http://www.poetryfoundation.org), publisher of Poetry magazine. It also is supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright 2012 by Robert Gibb from his most recent book of poems, "Sheet Music" (Autumn House Press, 2012). Poem reprinted by permission of Gibb and Autumn House Press.

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