Sunday, August 2, 2015


1. Small plane to St. Louis

This plane
is about the size of a minivan
(9 passengers + pilot)
a metal dragonfly, belly full,
moving point to point.
We thread our way between storms,
the radar screen dead-center in front of me
an ultrasound, searching for heartbeats,
tracking a birth.
Bright sun, warm, on our left
sheet of rain poured sky to earth on our right,
and a rainbow flies along beside us
for five, ten minutes, maybe more—
my seatmate and I take pictures.
Then he turns full to the window,
this young man who speaks French
with his traveling companions and English with me,
and sings into his phone, eyes fixed on the sky.
I can barely hear over the engines
but I know this is music, not speech.
He tells me later he made a brand-new song,
just then, in French.
We talk about living in a small town,
about feeling what lacks.
“It’s hard,” I say.
“How do you make it work?”
Maybe he meant job-wise, maybe not.
I answer with the only words
I can think of in the moment:
“I look for the beautiful things.”

2. St. Louis to Dallas

Each time a plane takes off
there is a moment of violence—
we are pulled up off the ground
whether we will it in the moment or not.
Soon there will be weightlessness of a sort,
ears contracting, the plane leveling off.
It makes more sense, now,
why the windows should sit so low,
top edges riding at nose-level:
the view is of the ground.
It takes effort to look up into the sky,
even from here.

Below us as we rise
the boats on a lake
pull graceful white trails
behind themselves,
like waterbugs
or maybe angels.

3. Dallas to Albuquerque

Aisle seat: the plane is my sky
the passengers my floating clouds.
Think of all the stories
streaming through the air
in neatly-packed containers
at any given moment—
going too slowly, maybe,
or too quickly, or too sadly.
Watch them gathered in airports,
waiting to fly—
mostly they ignore each other
but they’re all so damn beautiful.
Every flight is a masked ball,
a library,
a thousand different ways to fall in love
soaring through the air
hip to hip, shoulder to shoulder.

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  1. Karen, I love this. I, too, have taken the flight from K'ville to St. Louis in that little plane. Once with a tiny Dalton who cried almost loud enough to be heard over the engines.

    And this is the second beautiful post about flying I've read lately. (

    I hope you have a great time at the conference! I can't wait to hear how it goes.

    1. Thank you, Janice! It is quite a ride, and poor Dalton! Poor mama! And the workshop--I can hardly believe my good fortune in being here. Brain and heart are full already. We must talk definitely talk about it.

  2. Yes. Yes. "I look for the beautiful things."


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