Love Letter to Who Owns the Heavens
cujus est solum ejus usque ad coelum —13th C. common law
Before man dreamed up the flying machine we owned the air as far above our land as we could imagine. Up to infinity. Downto hell. Because air, in the days of tangibleproperty, was nothing. No foot had emerged from a lander onto the foreign terrain of the moon. No satellites passing over the hostas.The act of a horse, law says,reaching his head into an adjoining field and biting another horse is a trespass. A word, freed from the lips, is in the aira trespass. Now, in a country divvying upthe sky, unmanned machines will be given innocent passage. People will walk around whispering dominium as if to control at leasttheir breath. So, before the space of utteranceis duly regulated, before the 83 feet of air we own above our heads begins its collapse, this: I love you from the depth of the earth,to the height of the sky. I love you uponland immovable, soil open to exploitation by all. I am for your unreasonable use alone. And, when the wingèd gods finally interferewith your possessor's enjoyment, to anindefinite extent, I'll remember a time when men were the ones doing harm with their own hands. I'll remember the words I oncehad to give to you, in the porch, in private.
“Love Letter to Who Owns the Heavens” from LOVE LETTER TO WHO OWNS THE HEAVENS: by Corey Van Landingham.
Published by Tupelo Press January 1st, 2022.
Copyright © 2022 by Corey Van Landingham.
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry Daily with permission.
Corey Van Landingham is the author of Antidote, winner of the 2012 The Ohio State University Press/The Journal Award in Poetry and Love Letter to Who Owns the Heavens, recently published by Tupelo Press. Her work has appeared in American Poetry Review, The Best American Poetry 2014 and 2020, Boston Review, The New Yorker, The Southern Review and Virginia Quarterly Review. A recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship and a Wallace Stegner Poetry Fellowship from Stanford University, she teaches in the MFA Program at the University of Illinois.
"In a world where drones are named for the messenger god, who is also the god of thieves, where a wedding celebration can be shattered by a missile fired by no one at all, in a world of destruction-by-proxy and a fever dream of omniscience, Corey Van Landingham gives us a beautiful, penetrating book of poems. These pages fairly shimmer with intelligence. And with something more important too: with insight that restores us to our senses."