(Albuquerque Balloon Festival)
Traffic halts, and a thousand headlights glow
like farolitos. These lanes, in flow, would deliver us
to grounds where nylon sacs are reborn as orbs
as green as spores of moss or aspergillus,
or orange as glassy, fresh-laid salmon ova,
or layered in pastel stripes like the solar system’s
giant, the would-be sun of Jupiter.
Instead, ignition off, we’re bathed by indigo,
two mates in the aquarium of a Prius, half-dozing
until flames flash then blink like airplane lights
in upward slope: the dawn patrol has launched
to check wind speed for safety. Pilots burn propane
in pulses, steer hot air balloons toward the dim
cityscape of Albuquerque. Like meteors that blazed
to a young Earth, they seem to seed the sky.
As daybreak glazes peaks of the Sandias,
auroral globes ascend in clusters,
magic gardens. Yet one patrol balloon drifts
lower over the highway, then hovers
so close we long for ropes to shimmy
to its world of sage and desert rose.