Infrequent Flyer Mesmerized even thru tears as the twelve-seater circled above Newburgh Airport, lights of the Beacon Bridge glittered like a strand of café lights over the Hudson. It was December. I had spent five days in Florida watching my father, skinny as he was as a kid, lie drowsy and confused, hospital bed in the usual hospital setting, white waffled blankets, white sheets, white paper cups, white pitchers of white water, white nurses in white nylon pantsuits trying to reassure me that dark was not hiding behind every closet door. His lungs, three-thousand miles of old road paved with auto body chemicals and memory of Marlboro Lights, were collapsing under the weight of time, waves of tropical light. Weeks had passed, and the lungs insisted on closing like balloons with a carnival leak, My parents, the Peter Pan and Wendy of our neighborhood, if Peter had succumbed for a moment to Wendy’s mothering charms and they’d left his misfits behind to make their own Neverland, their own lost boys and girls. They improvised life, fueled with impulse and recreational hormones. Some success, some memorable failures. He flew, he always flew, often higher than the proverbial kite. She cried, got work when he could not, would not, supported his dusty flights of fancy, and now brought him spaghetti, American cheese melted on top, his favorite food, to supplement the hospital’s rancid menu. She visited daily, only a few blocks from their final paradise, made us the bearer of her news, old and new. And my plane before landing circled the airport like Peter on a final flight, enjoying the view he’d taken for granted for so long, thinking the journey would never end. We curled into a landing strip, I dried my eyes. My Beloved waited for me at the gate. We went to a barbeque joint to celebrate, see the live broadcast of a play his coworkers built the sets for, another trip to Neverland and back. We left halfway thru, my heart never, never having landed, still up there in the stars, dreading the morning.
About the Author: Cheryl A. Rice’s poems have appeared in Home Planet News, Misfit Magazine, and Trailer Park Quarterly, among others. Recent books include Love’s Compass (Kung Fu Treachery Press), and Until the Words Came (Post Traumatic Press), coauthored with Guy Reed. Her blog is at: http://flyingmonkeyprods.blogspot.com/. Rice lives in New York’s Hudson Valley.
Image Credit: Chase Dimock “LAX Window” (2021)