Mark Rudman

Only the Night Before

(The Balloon Fiesta, Albuquerque)

Sound. Sound. The motor has to kick up of its own accord.
The sound of all those trucks starting throughout Albuquerque.

The screen doors banging against the door jambs as the kids run
toward the heavenly fiesta. The anticipation that is its own contagion,

and imbues even the passengers on the plane with a joyful presence
they can hardly contain. A primitive ritual in modern dress

and without the blood and ancient decapitations.
I thought back to earlier in the day at Kennedy when I hazarded

I'd stepped onto a chartered plane by mistake as it filled
with handsome middle-aged passengers dressed western;

boots, silver buckles, turquoise bracelets, snap-button shirts,
flared petroglyphic skirts. It was everyone's destination but my own.

No wonder everyone ran to where the balloons were tethered.
The people were high and not one balloon had been released into the sky.

Just dark; remnants of day, cobalt, on the horizon sweeping upwards;
the perfect enclosure for the gas jets in their baskets; a field of pulsing blue

No one would get above the turbulence or equivalent conflicts on the
but for the duration everyone would be released from the burden of self,

men, women, children, piling out of trucks and gathering
with such dizzying velocity even those forms of separateness

would be stilled; because you had to move fast; faster than thought;
and the only thought you had to keep was keep each other somewhere in

Here we are on earth, I'm driving my red pickup, and heaven is near.
Nothing can bring me closer. Not in the present which for once

remains itself while everything continues in time.
The blue flames burn underneath the balloons like inspiration.

There is nothing that isn't happening now.
It's a current in the air that binds.