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On Kites Becoming Undone

For Maggie

By Sam

They say we send kites up into the sky 

to fly for us because we cannot stay up there 

in the air amidst the most vivid 

hues of blues that are so becoming of kites

that burst into laughter, bedecked with ribbons,

making wry remarks with riotous colors 

on the weather.

Who tug at the strings of our hearts —

that are now extended up into the skies,

whispering down tales that we can only try to comprehend.


So can we try to understand how to

collect a kite that is coming undone?

A kite whose seams are succumbing to the tear,

beams beginning to bend,

muscles unable to bear the burdens once

gladly carried before — even in the littlest of ways,

through the conduct of household chores,

errands, and the endeavors of every day?


Kites can shudder with pain but put on a smile,

because they know that they are meant to be there —

miles up in the air embracing the sky they believe must never

be taken away from them. Not if they are to face those

who care for them with pride.


When that time comes, do we continue

to spool out with our speech those lines

about how they are supposed to fly:

that because we cannot see that wear and tear —

because we are on the ground

and they are so far out in the air —

that we suppose that the wounds they say they have

are not there?


Do we leave kites stranded, standing in MRTs and buses without seats,

aching on their feet as they are left to perform tasks without rest,

backstage and behind closed doors?

To float through multiple misdiagnoses in order to

find out what has gone wrong within their frames?

To measure out their lives in pills prescribed for a condition,

that there is not enough research and information on?

When kites belong up there in the skies?


No, in truth, we must trust that kites,

that are coming apart can learn of new ways to fly,

if they are given the chance to try. As we in turn, come to unlearn,

our own inabilities to accept that pain that is not visible,

might be there, and can be accommodated with a little care.

So then we might listen to the symphonies

of a thousand kites in flight.

Author's Note:

As I interviewed Maggie, I was awed. I loved the stories she shared of taking part in various international festivals for kite-flying. But also I respected the integrity and empathy with which she carries herself. What struck me then was a fervent hope — that she would continue to soar like the countless kites that she has launched into the air, even as she grappled with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). RA is truly an "invisible condition”, where it is still under-researched, prone to misdiagnosis, and there is little public awareness about it. Thus, in this poem, I tried to highlight the little tweaks that can be made to our everyday behaviour, that would take less of a toll on the bodies of those living with RA. I also sought to illuminate the possibilities of what could be — if we were more understanding of RA. Just how much further people like Maggie can go with that extra energy, and the wonders they can show us!