The Yellow Balloon



A little black girl with butterfly barrettes

Ran up to me as I stepped off the bus.

She laughed

The kind of laugh that makes you

Look up for a moment 

And remember there is sky there.


With hope falling on every syllable, she said 





She reached her hand towards me

Holding the string of a

Yellow balloon.


I hesitated

And the moment was heavy 

With a hundred questions

I used to laugh like that 

But somewhere along the way I realized 

That beauty came with pain


And so I chose a life that was somewhere between 

Pain and beautiful


A life that was very comfortable 

But very alone


A life 

Without grief

But also without reverie. 


This gift that she offered me

This gift of the yellow balloon

It wasn’t in-between.


It was beautiful


I had forgotten what beautiful looked like

So I hesitated


And this little girl, didn’t she understand

How different the worlds we came from? 

Her life filled with 

Food stamps and trailer parks

Mine filled with 

Screens and fences


Her people trying to forgive 

Their hundreds of years in chains

My people trying to understand 

How we could ever do anything so cruel


Shouldn’t I be the one giving something to her? 

And so I hesitated


And that little girl, if she could see

What was inside of me

She wouldn’t want to give me that yellow balloon


Despite my neat house and my 

Church every Sunday


I am very scared

Like a little girl with butterfly barrettes. 


I live with thoughts dark and sad

And I wonder if anyone would love me 

If they really knew me. 


I didn’t deserve this gift.


And so I hesitated.


Finally, I bent down with tears in my eyes and said


“Honey, I don’t think I should take this ballon away from you. “

“But I want to give it to you” she said back.


She blinked

“I have an idea….Let’s hold on to it together, and then we can let it go!”  


I put my hand over hers.




We opened our hands

And our shackles fell


In that moment I felt it again:


Grief and reverie


But this time I wanted them both. 

I wanted all of it. 


Together we watched the balloon floating in the distance

Sunlight falling on us like baptism

Like reckless mercy

Like relentless love


I looked down at the girl, 

Our hands still intertwined

And I realized that

Despite all of our differences

In that moment we were just two wayward children 

That had seen a glimpse of home.


















2 thoughts on “The Yellow Balloon

  1. All I can say is,Wow Kate,reminds me of a song that was interrupted by a campfire one time.Very moving.The Song and the post.Bless you.

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