black and white airplane seat
[ This image is in the public domain. ]

Everything has its place: the false wall of grey plastic in the toilets
shielding spare tissues and rubber gloves, the translucent spoon-fork
nestled next to a coffee stirrer in sealed plastic, oxygen masks
curled watchful in the ceiling like pigeons in store-front eaves.
Everything is numbered. The recycled air chants the catalog,
letters and symbols hidden in the short-nap upholstery
of the economy seats: the alchemy of flight, in virgin blue
and red. We sit and say our prayers. We break through clouds
like a caul slipping off a face: these hours between times, crossing
the meridian, are where we live. The clock has stopped.

You will remember this journey as a non-journey, as a place
between places. You will not remember its true length. Sour-cream pretzels
with ginger ale and the choice of cheese tortellini or foil-baked chicken
are three days apart. The movie in your seatback occurs in real time.

In the dead of perpetual night a woman groping for the loo
fumbles the wrong handle and enters the attendants’ cabin, cots
tucked away like lifeboats in the tail. Each sliced-moon of face
in the half-light of the cabin is pristine, a satellite of unmoving hair
and longlast foundation; they are dolls in a cedar-look chest.

We are arrows given faces, we are cousins and great-uncles
forgotten until our feet touch solid ground. What we breathe
in our cabin is not oxygen, what holds us up is not wings.
We are the pause replaced by punctuation, we are the page
underneath the printing. We are flying through the air like angels.