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. But 

they’re beautiful. 

 

Amorphous bodies of water, like the blue-light 

shadow of a monster in your bedroom 

at twilight. But 

they’re not scary. 

 

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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