Today's poem is by Donald Platt


                      Joy is the jumbo
purple balloon my daughter Eleanor blows her small lungfuls
                      of life into, and then

throws to me, her stupid father who has forgotten
                      how to laugh.
The game is not to let joy touch the ground but pass

                      it on to someone
else—I hit it with one loose fist across the room to Michael my brother
                      who at forty,

with one chromosome too many and lousy fine motor coordination,
                      can still catch the slow
thin-skinned balloon, chortle, jerk his head, as if whiplashed

                      in an invisible
car crash, and toss it to our question-mark-backed father.
                      Dad can't remember

what day it is or where he lives, laughs and bats it on
                      to my mother,
whose shatterproof face has crazed into a thousand

                      flaws. Her pacemaker
needs a new battery, but she giggles and slaps
                      the balloon back

to me. I'm grinning, then guffawing at our spasmodic
                      juggling act,
five people, three generations gyrating together, straining toward

                      a globe that glows
and floats over our heads, this weightless thing no more than a cubic foot
                      of breath, about to break.

Copyright © 2007 Donald Platt All rights reserved
from My Father Says Grace
University of Arkansas Press
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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