A Toddler in Eden
My dad was almighty.
He made the world.
He slew both bogeyman and wolf.
He threw me into the sky and caught me as I fell.
He blew life into a yellow balloon
so it could bob in the breeze
while I held it by its string,
but strangely he warned,
“Now, don’t let it go.”
Thus came the birth of my first question:
Thus came my first Why?
And, to the answer he offered,
he received in return a broadside of whys –
so many whys he could not answer,
even if he tried.
Then, I heard the balloon whisper.
Then, I heard the balloon speak:
I come from the sun.
You can see it from my shape and my colour too.
If you let me go, I can fly away home,
and your father will fetch me back to you.
I released its string.
I set the balloon free,
and, without wavering, it rose
out of reach of my father and my toddler screams,
over tenement porches and the city’s flat roofs,
where the wind thieved it
forever from my view.
But a truth exposed
by the balloon and its lie
had given me a new father
as I fell from another sky.
Jack Grady is a founder member of the Mayo-based Ox Mountain Poets. His poetry is widely published, having appeared online or in print in Ireland, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Canada, Portugal, and Indonesia. Jack’s poetry collection, Resurrection (a sample of which you can read here), published by Lapwing in 2017, was nominated for the TS Eliot prize.
An early version of this poem appeared in A New Ulster.