Somewhere on a Plane between Me and You
by Andrew Broadous
April 2019 (Published in Literary Yard, July 2019)
The light of harsh evening
makes me squint, so I keep
my left hand pressed to my
forehead like a visor, watch
this plane flit its small silver
wings across the salmon tulle
spreading itself over itself.
In these microscopic windows
smudged with small fingerprints,
an old man from Vietnam discerns earth
from heaven and finds beauty in
what he can and cannot see.
He chooses ginger ale and lightly
salted peanuts over nothing at
all because he wants to treat
himself, at seventy-three, for once
in his life. Even after five children
and seven grandchildren, he never
once questions who he
was or what it was he wanted.
The seatbelt sign flashes overhead,
and a voice mutters, then makes
a joke in the form of a pun.
The two passengers beside this man,
a mother and her young daughter,
do not speak to him. Not because
of a dead war or his sandalwood
cologne or the way his nostrils gently
whistle like air through a closed vent.
Not because he looks at the pinched dark
sky like his wife used to look at him
back when she was alive in her love
and read about dogs doing courageous
feats and made mimosas in the early mornings
after they made love, but because they simply
do not know any of this.
Still, this man reclines ever so slightly,
smiles warmly and earnestly
while the seatbelt sign fades and the metal
bird touches ground, not because he still
finds that joke funny or that he’s happy to be back
on earth, but because no one will ever,
ever know what he knows.