In 27D

After hours of delay
and a particularly long layover,

the voice promising me clear blue skies
sounds like I imagined God

would when he asked me to forgive.
And the stewardess

pushing a cart toward me,
with her smart, ruby lips,

thick eyelashes,
and unconventional snakeskin boots,

looks like I imagined Venus would
if she wagged a finger at me,

inviting me to something forbidden.
Michelangelo’s David,

on the cover of the in-flight magazine,
flexes the chest I thought I’d have

if I could work shame’s nine tails
across my back

enough to diet on grapes
or bike to the gym.

The housefly, the only one
I’ve ever seen on a plane,

caroming between seatbacks
like a fire drunk on its own heat,

looks like I imagined I might
if I died in a plane crash

and was immediately shuttled back
into the living body I deserve.

If I close my eyes and let the engine noise
drown out all this useless sense,

I can hear Venus as a heron
and see God as a never-ending chest

of drawers, each
one of the infinite shades of blue,

can feel the surprising litheness
of stretched snakeskin,

and smell brush burning
on the prairie,

and my next body is the wavering sunlight
through the surface of water.

Copyright © 2013 by Ross White. Used with permission of the author. “In 27D” originally appeared in The Southern Review.