A falling plane as vessel. As Valkyrie—
The espresso shots tremble, darkening; the ounces
chatter on the tray as the unceilinged twin-
engine roar scourges the ear of the drive-thru
worker who only made out double tall. Out the window,
the plane jerks kite-like, tether whipped serpentine, &
drops like an elevator into the abandoned strip’s
parking lot a block from the register, nose snapped like
pencil lead guided by the god-hand that wanted to write
something (elegy, condemnation) across the weedy
& scarred blacktop. The falling plane as thrall, apologia of who’s
to become shadow. After hours, she guided us outside
with chilled canisters of heavy cream sweetened with vanilla
pressurized to spray. It was her last
night on the job. I used to dream I could float two stories
high, like confetti above a fire barrel, but when I
addressed my grounded companions, they said, You’re not
flying. When I say tangible, I mean to
touch. I mean, Of the earth & not above it. & yet love
is an act of falling; & parting, falling out. The sirens like planets
revolving on their distant tracks. I saw into the distance
through sound, not sight. It was September. Would you believe
the plane carried survivors?
Whatever crashes downwards, sends praise back up…
A transference of energy— Having buried
itself as far into the ground as
proportional to its strength per the ground’s density, the force reverses &
tremors back through its messenger. One night in front
of the glass storefront, a man shoots another. The blood
horizons the body, like light
on the edge of the world. The bullet wanting more, wanting to pull all the way
through the abdomen, like a stone through water, as it stretches the tissue
a final half
millimeter before coming to rest.
It was September & the wind was
hot through the window. Our hands were soft with milk, sour.
We watched the wreckage catch
after the pilot & passenger crawled
out. The plane as elegy. A body
can, like a sympathetic string, ring with another’s
peril. The falling plane like a horn player’s
air, following the arc of the instrument, narrowed, condensed into
movement, to pure recognizable, and then, mid-sustain,
the mouthpiece yanked away from the lips—the sound
bottoms, and what was note is now only breath that scatters . . .
Reach now from the edge of Lookout
Mountain to a ledge below, for the glasses the girl dropped . . .
Survive the body.
So many histories have their falling Gods. So many Sires put their sons in chariots—
with a bridle of free will, a bit of pride slobbered over.
Every time I write son, I want to write song. Every time I write fall, fault.
The system’s bass beat in the side mirrors. The reflection in the car’s roof—
For the moment, nothing but the overhang of the café’s drive-
thru & the sky, an arc of what
one, at a glance, leaning out, one would name
as a bird, buried colorless.
The falling plane as a reversal. As revival. Jamichael and I huddled at the propped-open
after our customers were gone & the road was closed & emergency workers
swarmed like stars. The only arrivals were a hot wind that scaled
the flames like a mountain, & the scent of aftermath, the little gods
in the raindrops, & our bodies expanding
through pain we had not felt. The smoke was like a great chain
that held the sky to the earth. It was just far enough
in the distance to be in the distance, for
us to feel we were there before we realized we weren’t.
EMILIA PHILLIPS is the author of two poetry collections Signaletics (2013) and Groundspeed (forthcoming) from the University of Akron Press. Her poetry appears in Agni, Harvard Review, The Kenyon Review, New England Review, Poetry, West Branch Wired, and elsewhere.