Long Haul


Consider the astronaut
who lose time and muscle while regular
flight attendants from Poland
send out juice trays and lamb plates.
You can see how the altitude
anchors light wave to saltwater field.

And this, Agnieszka, is this life
how you chose it, pacing the economy aisles.
This is no life for you, Agnieszka.  I have been to Sztabin,

land of our ancestors, bent double

harvesting loss. At 50,000 feet you stoop

with an empress neck,
placing the scrambled eggs in the microwave,

pouring orange juice into plastic cups for those

who do not recognise your suffering. Agnieszka,

when my uncles hid in boreal forests, it was you who fed them

bread, placed reeds over the pits they slept in, until

the soldiers left. What are our worries now?

A loss of oxygen, water landing,

See how the woman in seat 49F cradles her son,

blowing on the spoon before she feeds him.

How she grips his arm through turbulence, how we pace the aisles,

afraid of blood clots, rough landings, bland meals. Agnieszka this is living:

in a steel tube,  belonging to an equation of flight

we can’t compute or calculate. Believe me, Agnieszka,


I am giving you a map of the world.

Thin-topped granite, quartz, all the shards

of the volcano, compressed by time and our naming.

Collision of repairing, the shattering of meaning.


I am going to the temple, Agnieszka,

to study the familiar. Daisy stems

beneath glass bell jars, a ramhorn sliced in layers

of bone and meadow. This is an excavation, Agnieszka,

thumb press on the neck of language,

longing for another life.  Uncover your head,

the colours below us represent

clay pan, yam field, hail.

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