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We arrived in the windy city thirty minutes ago,two hours delayed.No apologies.Many passengers are missing their connections,but I opted in for a seven-hour layoverto enjoy the midwestern feel, after all.Never seen a substitute plane in the USuntil today, a generic plane,with no United Airlines on it.I tell you, flying in and out of Central PA has its upside.There’s always material for poetry.Have you ever heard an airline attendant say,"We will be delayedbecause the plane's computer is telling us that one of its engines is very low on oil?" Yes, low on oil,like a car, like something that needs ground to ground it, like a motorcycle. And then a technician comes on board, screws things in,while he’s on the phone. Thirty minutes, he’s still screwing the plane together. By then, I'm saying the Lord's prayer, the 23rd Psalm, the 125th Psalm, the Bible. I'm calling on Moses to part the Red Sea for me. I want to grab my husband,and run, but good old, trusting husband and comfortable Americans are sitting there, waiting for a screwed-up plane the way Americans wait. Silent, staring, comfortably eating a donut, sipping a drink, unlike me, this Grebo woman who has seen death over and over.Finally, the teenage-looking pilot needs a bathroom break, and he runs to the restroom. And another 15 minutes, the tech person leaves. We take off, bumpy, a Canadian plane, I realize, and now I'm thinking of a lake,where we can land, but the landing, bumpy, clouds, Lake Michigan, inviting, but thank goodness, the young pilots forgot to dump us in its blue foams, Lake Michigan, blue, beautiful, and polluted, but it's still Lake Michigan.When I grow up, I want to be a fish, a big blue fish if I ever grow up.
Copyright 2021 Patricia Jabbeh Wesley
Patricia Jabbeh Wesley’s many books include Praise Song for My Children: New and Selected Poems (Autumn House, 2020). She is a survivor of the Liberian Civil war and currently lives in Pennsylvania.
Laughing and not laughing. I was once on a British Airways plane in Spain that was delayed taking off. And the pilot kept making announcements: …due to mechanical problem…waiting for a part…I was longing for the famous British stiff upper lip instead of these terrifying confidences.
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Yes, I am secretly terrified when flying.
Just LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this poem. Smiling. Yipppeeeeing. Thank you Patricia.
I love Patricia’s poetry too.
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This is the way my thoughts often come. It feels so natural and honest, but with poetry magic. I am eager to find more of her poetry.
Yes, her Selected Poems was recently published by Autumn House Press.
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