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
            eating everything
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-
     estate magazine
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
            Washington State
                 and the same repeated genus of spruce.

I happened to have a pamphlet with me, Important Trees of
     Eastern Forests

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.