At 30,000 Feet


On ascension, the land appears a dusty blue,

like a ground-up piece of pastel chalk.

 

Mounds, the shade of brown you get when you mix

all the colors together. Dotted with dark green

trees that, from this height, look like a barber’s dustpan loot

after a busy Saturday. Or a particularly active anthill

discovered under a dilapidated front porch.

 

Fields a patchwork of grass and grain, complex but orderly

like a pattern reserved for the longest-tenured blue hair

in the church basement quilting club.

 

Concentric circles of cars and houses, like breadcrumbs

dropped by a turned-around and not-yet-out-of-the-woods

Hansel and Gretel.

 

And then the mountains, white-topped like off-shore rocks

where birds go to shit. Or a moldy piece of your grandmother’s

Irish soda bread. Or the sink in a bathroom

where a child is still learning how to brush his teeth.

Amorphous bodies of water, like the blue-light shadow

of a monster in your bedroom at twilight.

 

More mountains, like vanilla ice cream cones, dropped

and melting on a swimming pool deck on the first

hot day of summer vacation. Or salt spilled

from a shaker knocked over at the dinner table

by an over-exaggerated arm motion during a heated debate

between a soon-to-be divorced couple.

 

More water, the type of blue that painters become obsessed with

and go broke to buy.

 

Rivers like streamers, twirled across and taped

to the corners of the stark white walls of an empty banquet hall.

Or a spool of thread the cat unraveled. Or the cord of a wall phone,

uncoiled and stretched across rooms, with a father yelling about triplines

from down the hall. And then that moment before the phone,

hung upside down like a baby Achilles, drops

towards the floor, tenses, and curls back onto itself.

 

Clouds floating like scum

on the surface of a hazy lake.

 

Chemtrails overhead like low-hanging backyard clotheslines, bowing

under the weight of wet linens. Or the one remaining

slack string on a thrift shop guitar.

 

Fog furiously streaming at eye level, like a laundry vent

on a sub-zero day. Or the manholes of Manhattan,

anytime. Or the smoke your dad tried to wave away

when you spotted him mid-cigarette, after he promised you

he’d stopped.

 

Small towns aglow, like colorful pegs from an overturned Lite Brite

on a playroom floor. Or the dwindling embers of a morning campfire

you thought you’d extinguished the night before.

 

Land cracked, like the vase you broke but blamed

on your brother. Spilt, like your brother’s arm after he lost control

in an alley-way bike race. Creased, like satin bedsheets

after the last night you’ll spend with someone you love

who’s going away. But they

remain.

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