by Lydia Stone

Picture a balloon, inflated to translucence.
There are a number of ways in which
this particular predicament can end.
a)           Pinched by the neck, stretched, such that
               it screams hilariously until it dies,
               out of noise.
b)           Let go, to fly on flatulent wings,
               win a laugh, run out of fuel,
               then silence, then a sigh.
c)           Held tight. Too tight. Built up,
               then stuck with a spike.
               Hard luck. What a shock. Pop.
But those are all too loud for me.
There are two more that I can think of –
somewhat softer, somewhat not.
d)           Tied off. Maybe held down by string,
               maybe not. Maybe let go of, maybe left.
               Maybe floated away. Maybe the loft,
               maybe discovered again, maybe forgot. Maybe
               it mercifully popped, but probably not. Probably only
               waited to rot, still there in name, shrank and shrivelled and withered
               away, until even if anyone saw,
               no-one could say precisely when it changed
               from one to the other – though they could all say whether.
e)           Here’s another.
               Still holding the air or helium in,
               grip either side of the lip, and pull.
               If you’ve the knack, the air should escape,
               with no more noise than a gentle exhalation
               as it’s released. Or, if you prefer, relieved.
               That way, it dies,
               with the rubber still smooth,
               still of use, and still fresh in the mind.