poem index

Flying

Sarah Arvio
One said to me tonight or was it day 
or was it the passage between the two, 
"It's hard to remember, crossing time zones,

the structure of the hours you left behind. 
Are they sleeping or are they eating sweets, 
and are they wanting me to phone them now?"

"In the face of technological fact, 
even the most seasoned traveler feels 
the baffled sense that nowhere else exists."

"It's the moving resistance of the air 
as you hurtle too fast against the hours 
that stuns the cells and tissues of the brain."

"The dry cabin air, the cramped rows of seats, 
the steward passing pillows, pouring drinks, 
and the sudden ridges of turbulence. . ."

"Oh yes, the crossing is always a trial, 
despite precautions: drink water, don't smoke, 
and take measured doses of midday sun,

whether an ordinary business flight 
or a prayer at a pleasure altar. . .
for moments or hours the earth out of sight,

the white cumuli dreaming there below, 
warm fronts and cold fronts streaming through the sky, 
the mesmerizing rose-and-purple glow."

"So did you leave your home à contrecoeur? 
Did you leave a life? Did you leave a love? 
Are you out here looking for another?

Some want so much to cross, to go away, 
somewhere anywhere & begin again, 
others can't endure the separation. . ."

One night, the skyline as I left New York 
was a garden of neon flowerbursts--
the celebration of a history. 

Excerpted from Visits from the Seventh by Sarah Arvio. Copyright © 2002 by Sarah Arvio. Excerpted by permission of Knopf, a divison of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Sarah Arvio