Deflate

September 18, 2006

In autumn I wrestle the plastic water slide
to the ground, my legs like bellows riding the sides,

then pinch the thick airholes into slits
to hear the sizzle of release. A slight wind lifts

my husband’s early summer breath
into September air. It is as if

the lung of summer in the body of the world
is collapsing. I grip the plastic and furl

the bottom toward the top, trapping air
too slow to exit. Geese above me flare

and part; a thatch of brown grass below
dies. Those who claim their losses know

the exquisite pain of letting go. I drag
the slide into the cellar, where it will sag

in a dank corner until June, when once again
small bodies will skim down its inflated spine

beyond our reach. Breathe, boys, breathe,
we pant, then slacken our jaws, unclench our teeth.

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