Various and Sundry Poetry

the view from 20D

Airborne again, Hartford to Dallas to home,
the lights of Santa Fe twinkling 32,000 feet below
and the exit row all to myself
which isn’t a bad metaphor for the last week,
something opening, revealing itself,
the freedom to choose, to stay or to leave,
not the defeat I was thinking it to be,
the consolation prize, the last-ditch ditching,
but freedom, a clear exit row leading to the right wing
of this big, beautiful bird. On the phone two nights ago,
E said that it would be alright if it turned out
we needed to live apart, and it wasn’t about the dogs
this time. She said it calmly, plainly, without controversy
or ugliness or as a substitute for I dare you or do you love me.
Just an “if and then” scenario, a choice, the best kind
of freedom for a girl like me, clear exit row,
all the legroom in the world, and this is the only way
I can imagine sitting back and enjoying the flight.

All week, resting at my mother’s, sleeping upstairs
with a slightly too-thin blanket and a mattress
I would not have chosen but sank into anyway,
the stretchy solitude, the night all mine, the light all mine
at the side of the bed and turned off at some ungodly hour
only when the jetlag and my mulchy, meticulous mind finally
let me sleep, and I don’t know how many times I turned over,
put hands behind my head, manipulated the pillows,
thought about her hand on my thigh, just lying there,
as if there were nothing else in the world we could be.

This is what good love does to you, lays its hands on you even
when it’s not in the room, and this is why I can sit
in my exit row and not think about the sound the handle
would make if I pulled it, not think about the million pounds
of pressure, not rehearse a scene that features a perilous drop
to the bottom of the earth, the rush and catastrophe of
abandoning ship just when it’s reached such a fine
cruising altitude. Instead, I am measuring the two hours
to go before the plane touches down again,
I am imagining the ginger ale she would have ordered,
the trashy magazine we would have ogled together,
the sun sinking down so fast but that solid palm on my thigh,
like good reason, like faith, like its own kind of forever.