Someone told Mom it takes six months to realize
someone is no longer on the planet.
On a commuter plane from Portland to Seattle
it was exactly six months later,
on the tiniest plane in the world.
I broke out in hives
like a nun blushing all over for God—
a sweeping bloodshot victory
while the other feelings starve—
the plane shook, and I grabbed the leg of the woman sitting
next to me.
She looked taken aback, then returned to her real-
without a word
while silvery tears rolled down my face onto a
book called VALIS,
which was open onto the first page.
Strangers shake in the breeze of my cannonball looks—
out the round window I could see below me
and the same repeated genus of spruce.
I happened to have a pamphlet with me, Important Trees of
from 1968. I opened to the swamp cottonwood, which grows
in Mom’s front yard.
Whenever I fly
I feel that I’m being forced to accept my own death.
And now, simultaneously,
I was being forced to accept the death of someone
I knew that once I accepted it, I could accept the free sample
of local Washington beer in plastic party cups the
flight attendants came around with
like a blessed and bitter medicinal syrup
pulled from a prehistoric wheat.
From The Möbius Strip Club of Grief (Tin House Books, 2018). Copyright © 2018 by Biance Stone. Used with the permission of Tin House Books.