Photo by D’Arcy Norman.
Flight Plan Interrupted
I often guess at names for towering clouds,
walk Wonder and Preconception on separate leashes,
try to picture where the other shoe has dropped
or where it dangles somewhere barely holding on.
Skyscrapers are nothing seen from the window
of our Cessna. Flat planes of gray concrete stuck to the land.
Never mind their stories, their poetic sighs
elevated and numerated from within.
Yet here I am floor 7, room 728 remembering
their silent geometries as I watch the citizens below
in matchbox cars and other combustibles
(addictions and intentions invisible
save for the wink of turn lights and the curl
of smoke slipping out thin window cracks).
From this vantage I can’t see the red satin slipper
we passed a half an hour ago.
The shoe was not without sex appeal
the mystery of abandon— one thin strap,
told tongue-tied tales of a date gone bad—
maybe a pilot, a cad, and some fresh rose
scented with vanilla and musk
dabbed behind her ears.
Too much tequila—too much, too fast—
details more mundane than sublime.
It seems whether aloft or on sidewalks,
Scuff and Speculation are the only dogs I know.
The soft hair of a mule deer
floats inside the open window sill
There is no mesh screen, only a boy
entangled in his bedsheets,
a thin phone glows in his hand.
He takes photos of himself
naked torso, profile in shadow.
The ambient stillness of lamplight
is kind to his face
which is broken out but only a little.
He is thinking about the girl
across the country.
It is still early evening for her.
Dishes just cleared from her California table,
olives poured back into the jar, bottles
slick with sweat, glisten near her head.
She has stood so long in light of the icebox—
an old fashioned word
for a new and not so knew time— an hour
has slipped past without making a sound
save for the cool thermal hum.
The boy and the girl
exchange images over and over.
Her face tilted, filter of cartoon:
doe spots, lips parted in half pout
while his eyes grow heavy with sleep.
Outside an animal folds its legs into the sage,
tucks his new velvet prize in moonlight
and beds down for the night.
Kierstin Bridger is a Colorado writer and author of the 2017 Willa Award winning Demimonde (Lithic Press, 2016) and All Ember (Urban Farmhouse Press). Winner of the Mark Fischer Poetry Prize, the 2015 ACC Writer’s Studio Award, an Anne LaBastille Poetry Residency and short-listed for the Manchester Poetry Competition in the UK, Bridger is both editor of Ridgway Alley Poems and Co-Director of Open Bard Poetry Series. She co-hosts Poetry Voice with poet Uche Ogbuji. Find her current work in Prairie Schooner, December, and Painted Bride Quarterly. She earned her MFA at Pacific University. Kierstinbridger.com.