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
Photo by Lynn D. Rosentrater