Cheryl A. Rice: “Infrequent Flyer”

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: Rice lives in New York’s Hudson Valley.

Image Credit: Chase Dimock “LAX Window” (2021)

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