Balloon Animals

by Dorothy Chan

"You should have asked me earlier," I think
on the rooftop of the Met, looking down:
the center of the universe right when
Cinema Paradiso's going to play—
Why does everyone think that rooftops are
the most romantic? They're staged, depressive—
the place of Affairs to Remember and
Indecent Proposals looming about
until some dark figure pops up, making
it all doomed…But—it's the breathlessness, like
Laurent Korcia's drunk-in-a-good-way
violin coming in after twinkly
star effects, an epic mimicry too
good, too classical to be the music
of the upstream Venetian gondolas.

There needs to be heightened reality here,
something the entire world can see but
will never know…Behold: Koons' Balloon Dog
before my eyes, when the twinkly stars take
effect and some kid gets excited from
his reflection in the green, trying to
touch it all. I mean, what's the point of Pop
if you can't touch it? Some commodity!
Unlike those balloon animals we got
in front of the florist's—my giraffe that
blew away that afternoon too long ago.
Those late nights we had with shrimp crackers and
instant coffee—the privilege…oh, no…
the heightened reality of being
able to reach out, to eat, and to touch.


Dorothy Chan is currently working towards her MFA in Creative Writing (poetry) at Arizona State University. She is the poetry editor of ASU’s national/international literary magazine, Hayden’s Ferry Review. In 2012, she graduated from Cornell University, with a cum laude degree in English with a minor in History of Art. Chan’s work has been in Cha and The Writing Disorder. Her honours include a 2012 Pushcart Prize nomination for her poem “Ikebukuro Train Rides” featured in The Writing Disorder, along with the 2011 Corson-Browning Award for Poetry (Cornell English Department) and the 2011 and 2012 Robert Chasen Memorial Prize (Cornell English Department).

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