In Flight

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Clouds stretch out in white rows

for miles beside the plane, a whole

 

orchard of sky and milky gleaming.

I think of what you told me

 

about Missouri, of the wheat fields

and their swaying glow,

 

the girl you used to dream about

with blond hair and skinny knees

 

and too much faith in what

she couldn’t touch. I can never

 

explain the Great Lakes to people

who haven’t seen them.

 

The vastness. The exact shade of blue.

Even now, above Lake Michigan,

 

I can’t find the end of it, the shore

below me. I imagine seagulls

 

circling somewhere in the space

between cloud and water,

 

whole lives lived in descent

and in flight. Turbulence

 

on the plane, and I think

of my grandmother bent over

 

her third glass of cabernet, years

buried in the same quiet town.

 

You’ve never asked about my past.

The nights spent in unlit

 

basements, the boys who thought

their bodies were gifts to be unwrapped,

 

stories I am happy not to tell you.

The plane bends in toward Chicago,

 

and I am trying not to grip

the arms of my seat too tightly,

 

trying not to show that I’m afraid

of losing the sky

 

I’ve grown used to having

beneath me.


Photo by Lynn D. Rosentrater

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About Author

Michelle Reed is a Michigan native working as a freelance writer and editor in Chicago. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Split Lip Magazine, Watershed Review, Lunch Ticket, and The Smoking Poet, among others. She has an MA in English from Bucknell University.

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