It’s worse than take-off, rough,
up into bad air, barbed-wire marine layer,
a nasty weather pattern. This:
waking up thirty thousand feet
above someone else’s life.
He’s putting on his socks, his work shoes,
kissing his sleeping wife. He needed more sleep.
Above him a plane en route
to Tokyo, Kansas City, Rome—
it doesn’t matter.
Inside, the flight attendant spills hot coffee
on a first class sleeping passenger, who dreamed
he was a Belgian mountain climber sleeping
on the starched skirts of a peak, slim hold onto life,
oxygen-deprived and reaching for his wife,
when urgency urged him to wake—
a splash of sun burning his freezing face?
Where is the ladder, the escape hatch from disaster?
Just a woman exclaiming sorrow, not his wife all.
He is wiping clean his face
as the man on earth caffeinates,
And they readjust their collars,
ponder breakfast, the New York Times,
and just how much a man can take.
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