A Silent Palette Cleanser

by Thomas Brett

Walking down Main Street without music in my headphones, I Iook up and see three balloons–one red, one yellow, one white–tethered to a string, hanging just above a store awning, moving. As I watch the balloons I wonder just who the string attaches to: Someone flying the balloons like they’re a kite? What celebration might they colorfully announce?

Then I notice the balloons are floating ever higher–further above the store awnings now, gaining height and speed, pushed by the wind to bobbling assent. The piece of string to which the balloons are tethered, I see, is itself attached to nothing and no one. Yet the balloons celebrate their own motion by accelerating ever upwards, and as I watch the buoyant balls ascend into the pure blue sky and become like two-dimensional cardboard cut outs, an unexpected wave of joy passes over me, cleansing the moment. The balloons are doing musical work without making a sound, suggesting a narrative with only motion to tell the tale.

Go for it!

Go for it!

Release and expand,

drift towards the bird’s-eye view,

weightless and coasting,



I keep looking up, straining, but lose track of them. There’s still no musical soundtrack, and the red, yellow, and white balloons are now gone.