Mid-Afternoon Over Montreal
Arlene Ang

Like waxing legs
or ostriches on narrow ramp
or spiders trapezing from cobwebs,
flight attendants pass:
coffee, tomato juice, fish with
pasta, duty-free—like bad deals
or a John Doe’s personal effects—
temptations with a dump-truck’s
je ne sais quoi, the noise
of wheels a constant thrum.

And why try to read
newspapers inside the plane?
Why not, like a path
spotted with hansel crumbs,
instructions on sand,
toothpaste, leave the world etched
on gravestones, someone’s
father trapped in a rifle called
courage and fall asleep?

And perhaps in due
time someone will dream:
chocolates, pre-tsunami children,
wildflowers where stray dogs
lie buried, cats on the roof,
foreigners waving from behind
the sign: don’t step on the grass.

Will it come, this last spark
that burns away the fuselage?
Death is elementary—
the rest falls back to earth:
a piece of dental filling, broken
luggage handle, passports
stuck in mud, everything sealed
in plastic bags. It is only human.


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