Photo: Peter Haskell

“We will soar, for we are armed
knowing where the lies land us.”

My son and I recently visited New York and the 9/11 memorial, which was equally eerie and moving.  Though effectively a tourist attraction, it was beautiful, evocative and respectful of the souls lost. I wrote the poem below a couple of years after that terrible event.

I still love flying. How human is that, to continue to take risk in the face of tragedy and despite fear? Courage or folly? Both?


Before you-know-what, you-know-when,
I flew in an airplane. I won’t say what.
Or when. People are sick from it.
NASDAQ crashed. Family plan with it.

I remained on the upswing. Going somewhere.
Chicago specifically, e-poets’ geo-conference.
I am digerati. A doyenne of new media culture.
Still, airport security confiscates my apple.

My orange. Half my dinner. They take nothing
from the hinky, hacky-sacking Travis Bickle
doppelgänger who must pose more of a threat,
though that’s like comparing potheads to divas.

Pick up my e-ticket. Wait with the other sulky,
wannabe passengers, SeaTac muggy as a laundromat,
air fouled with KFC. Machines vend to the grounded.
Concrete pillars tremble in the wake of each landing.

Since this is before you-know-what, I don’t assume
a 747 will take out the Space Needle or land
right through us. I don’t equate ‘jet’ with ‘bomb.’
I need only worry about the quake. The Big One

Vancouver and Seattle—sitting queenly
upon the Juan de Fuca fault line—are overdue for.
I am anticipating flight, savouring my thrills,
bumpy joyrides, like motherhood.

Junior calls. Yes dear, Mommy will be home soon.
Before the split, his father cautioned us:
Mercury in our mouths. Vaccines.
Population control. Microwaves.
A conspiracy of urologists.
Fluoride. Fallout. Wheat.

He has found a healer. Can he be cured?
We all know I’m doomed to be infected.
I’m the one who will eat tainted salmon
at the barbeque, the one with stretch marks

and eyes closed in the photographs. The one
who defected, the one who didn’t want
what he wanted, sixteen hours on a film set,
baby languishing with a sitter.

He gets on the phone. Another forecast.
I dreamed you died in a plane crash. I saw you
flailing about in the ocean with your books.
Oh stop polluting my trip with your Eeyore pooh.

I am part of a feminist plot against fathers,
and it was a controlled explosion
set off by the U.S. government.
Suddenly he is solvent, taking me to court,
re-staking his claim to our precious cargo,
crusading to save his son from the new world order.

I board. Window seat. Always, despite dire warnings.
Junior likes to compare the people to ants.
Houses are Lego, mountains, papier mâché.
We land. Kurt appears in the flesh, our virtual rapport
downloaded to O’Hara minus the time-outs and errors.

I feel at home in Chicago, loose in its Loop, towers,
Art Institute. Go to live in Chagall’s epic blue
glass dream for a day, emerge bestowed with wings,
like all his lovers and madonnas.

I have not flown since you-know-what,
you-know-when. We are saddled with dread
after witnessing steel crumple like tin.
It is safe to grieve. Cockpits secured.
Air marshals on board. We will fly again,
prepared to take down any motherfucker
who thinks he’s going to hijack anyone.

We will soar, for we are armed
knowing where the lies land us.

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