Artificial Horizon

Thirty-five hundred feet above the earth, I said goodbye
to the heartland with its musk of animals and alfalfa,

to the Coralville Reservoir and its wounded
peregrine falcon with the dusky blue feathers,

to the lattice of pastures interlaced like Celtic spirals, 
full of pink-snouted spotted pigs and overflowing corncribs,

to the cemetery with its black angel and tombstones
engraved with contemporary memento mori--

Garfield the cat, a pack of Marlboros, a Corvette--
instead of death's heads and winged cherubs.

We flew farther--saw the golden dome of the Maharishi
levitating and the barges on the Mississippi marking twain.

And hard by my hip, my pilot star, your long fingers
controlled the ailerons, practicing skid and slip,

Touch and go, bank and stall, keeping a steady hand
as we flew beyond the bounds of the artificial horizon. 

From False Horizon by Sue Standing. Copyright © 2003 by Sue Standing. Reprinted by permission of Four Way Books. All rights reserved.