I can't stop imagining my own death on airplanes. I buckle my seatbeltand a propeller flies through the window and slices off my arm. I lookas my insides stream from the wound. If this doesn't happen then laterthe plane will fall slowly and smash into a mountain. I am crushedlike a grape inside a fist. My mother asks me to text her every timeI board a plane. I never say I love you, only On the flight! Thenmy mind begins the dirty work. Visualizing how this couldkill me. I read that flying is the safest way to cross distance. Safetyrequires the accumulation of knowledge. My mother learned my fatherwas like two different people. His violence snuck up on him,and neither of them saw it coming. In one moment, he'd fill the fridgeand the next BAM his fist would come crashing down. A split pomegranateis how I picture my mother's scalp, before the stitches. Burst open.I shouldn't say that like I was there. I was barely a year. It doesn't costmy body to imagine. Not really. I know the body is fragile by what I learnedwas done to my mother's. The price of a lesson: to describewhat happened so that it might not happen again. An SOSin the sand. He lifted her up into the sky and held her there, gasping.There it is again. I don't know what came over me. Sometimes,you make me so angry I just lose control. The pilot loses controland the whole plane rattles. I watch the babies cry. The last timeI saw my father was at an airport. Last can have so many meanings.Final. Most recent. Endure. Please stay. I stayahead of all the ways I could hurt a person, and fly off before they happen.The people I love say I leave and make them feel so far away.I didn't mean to do that. I worry that if I feel too much I'll go madand set the world aflower with something utterly unpredictable.Can you believe that? I am the stranger in the middle seat, bowed by turbulence,gripping wildly in the dark for your hand . Whispering, will it hurt.I don't want to die. I can see it so clearly.Sometimes this happens. Sometimes the arm lashes outin ways that feel almost instinctive. Please, don't take meat my word. I always mean to say I'm sorry.
Copyright © 2019 by Dave Harris
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry Daily with permission.
Dave Harris is a poet and playwright from West Philly. He is a Cave Canem Poetry Fellow, a Callaloo Poetry Fellow, a member of The Working Farm at SPACE on Ryder Farm, and a 2018 Venturous Fellow at The Lark. His first full-length collection of poetry, Patricide, will be published in May 2019 from Button Poetry. Dave received his B.A. from Yale and is a second year MFA playwright at UC San Diego.
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