“The trauma said, ‘Don’t write these poems.
Nobody wants to hear you cry about the grief inside your bones.”
― Andrea Gibson, The Madness Vase
A Poet Survives a Plane Crash
I haven’t slept much since the plane fell—
this is the first I’ve written.
It seems only hours since the gate—
conversations about overpriced politics, greedy pizza.
Moments later, shaking boarding passes scanned,
I’m helping you shove things into overhead compartments.
Then we’re climbing higher, closer—
the rush of the beast forcing us inward.
Hands brush over arm rests when the
plane’s puppet strings snap and we begin
slow motion falling—grasping at whatever part of you
that you let me, but nothing stops the earth from
flying up to meet us.
You survived, though, and I survived because of some
physical fluke in seat positioning, but
we haven’t spoken, though you’ve tried.
I can’t bring myself to because I know
your phrasing will dance over the words plane and
gravity and disaster like a ballerina, and I may
just break apart in telling you that I wanted you
in the wreckage as I wanted you in the terminal—
your hair, your softness, your opinions.
Now, I have recurring dreams of landing, of checking
into a seedy hotel in Milwaukee where we won’t be found—
your husband thinks you’ve been held over and the
bachelor’s party I was headed to is fine with waiting another day.
Here is the part where you toss open the
door and throw off the trip—tossing your should-have-been-
checked baggage on the dresser and look at me. “Now
boarding,” you whisper, backing toward the sheet-covered runway
where we fall into lift-off as I become tangled
in fabric and surrounded by
your softness, your hair, and the ground flying up to meet us.
This is when we become aware of the dropping
sensation, the hotel room falling from 30,000 feet where
it had been perched upon some principle of physics
uncaring that I don’t understand it. Slow motion falling—
grasping at whatever we can of each other,
but nothing stops your softness from flying up to meet me.
Gasping and sitting up in bed—now awake and
sweaty from dreamed falling,
your hair, and the ground flying up to meet us .
Life is like this now—refrigerator magnets
floor-scattered and TVs left running at night,
silent watching, sleep-sitting in a recliner, fighting
tired eyes with Cosby Show reruns, fingernail half-moons
piled next to a chair, canned food, gallons of
water, duct tape, and a letter I’m waiting to
send; pizza boxes, unfilled prescriptions,
a heavy longing, unblinking rebellion, a bag of dreams,
your opinions, your hair, your softness
and the ground flying up to meet us.
Shane Wilson is a morning coffee and nighttime bourbon enthusiast. He has always written—in journals or on cocktail napkins—and always will write where there is a surface. He has published creative non-fiction in the anthology Shout them from the Mountaintops and his poetry will be featured in the third volume of the Stonepile Writers Anthology, available from the University Press of North Georgia. Shane teaches college English in North Carolina.