On the red-eye from Seattle, a two-year-old
in the seat behind me screeches
his miniature guts out. Instead of dreaming
of stuffing a wad of duct tape into his mouth,
I envy him, how he lets his pain spurt
into the open. I wish I could drill
a pipeline into the fields of ache, tap
a howl. How long would I need to sob
before the lady beside me dropped
her fashion rag, dipped a palm
into the puddle of me? How many
whimpers before another passenger
joined in? Soon the stewardess
hunched over the drink cart, the pilot
gushing into the controls, the entire plane:
an arrow of grief quivering through the sky.
Copyright © 2008 by Jeffrey McDaniel. From The Endarkenment (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2008). Reprinted from Split This Rock’s The Quarry: A Social Justice Poetry Database.
Jeffrey McDaniel is the author of Chapel of Inadvertent Joy (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2013) and The Endarkenment (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2008), among others.
Date Published: 2016-04-27
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/air-empathy