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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.