In your whole life you flew only once.
It was night, and the need was urgent.
Wordless the whole way, you clenched my hand
until my fingertips turned red.
Not just the funeral, you later said, but the flying
made you dig crescent moons into my palm.
It was my first flight, too,
and I turned from your closed face to the soft
curve of the semi-lit window and watched
street lights rivering under the belly and wing.
I was so young, wanting to believe
the future waited out there in the blue-violet night.
But you kept holding on, pulling me back
as if I were the mother.
Tonight, I’m in a jetliner heading west,
descending through thirty thousand feet,
four decades to the hour when you said
death was like diving in an airplane.
An orange sky bends over LA,
freeways writhe like ropes of fire.
The ocean is a thick black rim.
Sometimes I miss you past all telling.
Sometimes I can’t forgive.
Maria Rouphail is the author of two poetry collections, Apertures and Second Skin. She was second place winner in the 2019 Nazim Hikmet International Poetry Competition and has previously been published in Willawaw.