This cool drone listens to me; if I say
wake up, its camera opens like an eyelid,
if I say fly, its blades unfurl themselves
and make a shivering sound, as when
a bird flaps its wings before it climbs
the vertical steps of air,
if I say come back, it lands by my chair,
and if I say sleep, it turns silent.
As a child, I once had a paper kite—
silvery bird with two bluish
wings, long beak, feathery tail;
when it soared high above the shore
it became a sharp seagull circling the sky,
with two flashlight eyes peering into
dark waters, waiting, like a skilled diver,
to plunge in and catch a fast dashing fish.
I’d take it to the water’s edge and order it to fly.
Fly my seabird, fly, I’d shout;
and as soon as I’d unspool the string,
to which it was tethered, my kite would
flutter and lift above the lashing wind,
gliding swiftly along the howling shore,
its glittering wings stretched out
like a pair of scissors slicing the sky.
From below, and standing barefoot
on the belly of the hot earth,
I would look up and see it hanging
high in the heavens like a heaving star.
Gripping its taut line tightly,
I could feel the vibration of its wings;
and oh movement, oh joy, it was as if
those wings were stirring the still air in my soul.
Come back my seabird,
come back, I’d shout, calling it back to earth,
pulling the long string, bringing it closer and closer,
tugging it back into my slender arms.
And as soon as it was firmly in my grasp,
I’d press it against my pounding chest
and run like a horse filled with gust.
One day my kite didn’t return.
Come back my seabird,
come back, I screamed, but my voice was hurled back
by the hammering wind; as my kite fluttered
left and right in the whistling air, its reins
flew like fear from my grip, I jumped up high
like a wingless bird, desperately trying
to catch the loosed tether,
but it was too late,
the arrow had already left the bow,
and my kite shot away,
leaving me stringless in the wind.
It is late on the lonely coast, a lone
fisherman is pulling an empty net,
a hurt dog is dragging his heavy pain
away from the rising tide, I weep and night
drenches my footsteps, I cry and darkness
floods my mournful eyes.
And oh where are you now my beloved bird?
Did you fall like a fist in the shadow
of a fleeing storm, did you get swept like
an insect by the hand of a vengeful wind?
Perhaps you were speared by the sun’s bitter rays,
and went swirling down like a curl of sorrow.
Or maybe you got tangled like a crown
in the needles of a dark towering pine.
No, I kept repeating to myself, no!
My kite was not blown away in a blur of death.
My kite was not torn in two like a heart.
My kite was not slammed, twisted, gouged,
left bare facedown on a jagged rock like
a wounded bird running hot with blood,
wings, tail, and all.
Oh bird, speak to me now! Tell me you landed far
from the wandering sea and all its tears.
And you crazy drone, buzzing like a bee
over my head; if only you knew I am that child,
draped in an old man’s suit,
giving you flight orders from his seat: