After the Appalachians, our flight mimics the river’s every turn, approximating its pulse as an earthen vein. My ears pop over a north bend. The pilot turns off the seat belt sign. An attendant offers me water in a blue carton. I thank him, twist the lid. It hisses like an old hurt we plunge too readily
because pain is the most identifiable feeling. It’s why, despite the injury, scratching feels good. At our altitude, the clouds take nonsense shapes leftover from dreams.
Two passengers totter to the restroom. Another behind me farts like a stink of pigeons taking off. Our path nears familiar hills, barns, the twin silos at the feedlot, their outer ladders a cause of my brother’s vertigo vomit, the valley where I was often asunder, smoldering, peeled by sun and pesticides, my mom insisting no one would put up with me long enough to love or marry me
because homosexual meant careless, slutty, lonely, probably dead at a young age. She was wrong. At our altitude, her size has not changed.
The pilot announces our approach, activates the cabin lights. I chug my water. Lurking just over the horizon, the runway, possibly lost luggage, my lover in the car. The distance is an easily dismissed side effect of time, our shadow an ant crossing hayfields. The attendants collect the last trash, tisk open trays, warning us
items shift in descent, the plane wobbling, squeezing us into the seam of sky and ground.
BEN KLINE (he/him) lives in Cincinnati, Ohio. Author of the chapbooks Sagittarius A* and Dead Uncles, Ben was the 2021 recipient of the Patricia Goedicke Prize in Poetry. His work is forthcoming or can be found in Poetry, Rejection Letters, Mollyhouse, bedfellows, West Trade Review, Olney Magazine, fourteen poems, and many other publications. You can read more at https://benklineonline.wordpress.com/.