The Stewardess

California leaves in smoke & flame
cigarettes you never touched

the burning
bristle

but your hands
on steel made a home
in airplanes

soaring over the evergreen
we outgrew

you called a bottomless lake
drowning

monsters deep in murk

in the way of work
was love &

understanding this
you left the city
became the sky

 

(originally published in The Inflectionist Review, 2018)

Plane Delay

You learn your plane
has been delayed
again.

You remind yourself it has nothing to do
with you. The cause must be
something mechanical– a loose cap or

calibration error. The crew
does not have to say it’s not you,
it’s us because by now you know

the sigh of steel wings, how planes take
a while to ascend anyway.
How insignificant– this delay

stretches hours and a kind
voice speaks through white
noise on the loudspeaker like

she wants to say there is something
we can do to make a difference.
The plane will have the sky when

it is ready. Until then,
do not say it is broken.

 

(originally published in Little Patuxent Review, Winter 2016)

Gate C55

Waiting in the airport and the ceiling fluorescents
are arranged like a runway askance and I know
I am running from what cannot be salvaged:

a week ago we soared through the sky
with all parts intact and fully functional.
I didn’t need to look out deep, endless windows

of fields and plane-paved paths and houses and wonder
where I belonged, how an engine could so quickly find fault,
how its parts could rust in her thrust into eternity–

we will never have the biology to fly, no matter
our construction, no matter the fantasy of the air–
and the air is a fantasy you breathe easy and pure

but the higher you go the more lungs constrict the heart
and light breathing becomes impossible in the heavy beating
that feels like so much excess baggage it will encumber

the great invention and bring it tumbling to earth,
where we begin and always end–

where, in the vast expanse of land I have no choice but to
stay bound to, I stare up toward the full, cloudy sky
and watch the great, miraculous wings of blackbirds

descend slowly on telephone lines beyond reach
to know what I am made of will never be enough.

 

(originally published in Rust  + Moth, Autumn 2016)