Blood Red–Jennifer Nightingale


They waited in line at the Dollar Store
He bought a red balloon made of mylar.
It was blood red and shiny, filled it with helium and tied it with a red ribbon
“Happy Valentines” it announced to the world
It tugged on his hand and bounced when he walked.

He held her hand by Tansy Point
And handed her the balloon as a sign of his affection.
They watched the chop on the river.
The rain came at them sideways and left tears,
On this red shiny thing.
Wind slapped it and she felt the tug.
She smiled and told him that I was her first grown-up valentine.
Before letting it slide from her red chapped hands
It took flight and move further and further away,
Beyond the weighted clouds and their line of sight

She had a notion that it would land in a sun filled country.
With tall palm trees, where nobody spoke their language.
And small children would marvel at this thing
That was blood red and shiny

A beach cleaner found it at the wrack line only a few miles downriver.
Scarlet foil peeking out from the gray grit.
Red ribbon attached, tangled in eel grass, and weighted with detritus.
The cleaner shook off the wet sand and slid it into his trash bag.
Just two days after they let it go.
It was still blood red and shiny.

Jennifer lives in Astoria with Holt Moore and their pup, Mickey. She stays buoyant and inspired by the community of poets from Cathlamet to Garibaldi. In 2019, she published Alberta & the Spark, a coastal coming of age novel.