Abby Paige
Abby Paige

The Disaster of Flight

The plane hefts itself off wheels
its pekid, upward yawn repeated in my viscera.

            None of the weightlessness of birds.

They in window seats lower their faces
with wonder below reserved for sky, look down
strangely reverent on the land we have abandoned
recede into diagram of green.

The blue terrain we supposedly transcend to
refuses to be real
shrinks from our approach until
we are just in air, drawing lines across it.

Between two points, all distances straight.

            Is that really how crows fly?

I know the desire to rise
be taken by the sky
but even birds aspire
to descend.

                        Look, look
                        down below, the parks
                        gilded for autumn:

            pigeons lift into the trees
            waterfalls of black, upturned
            to leave the ground, falling at the sky.


To The Illustrators of My Dictionary

To whomever drew the manatee, which in suspended animation
floats above Manaus: thank you for his stippled hide and the
suggestion of whiskers on his snout, which detain me in my search

for melton, near the middle, en face with mandarin collar, whose wearer,
I must say, looks human in only a general sense, staring archly
above the collar’s starch like a post-mortem daguerreotype,

which I doubt was your intention, though the wearer of ascot suffers
a similar fate a thousand pages away. When you chose to picture
ocarina (a small egg-shaped wind instrument with a mouthpiece

and holes for fingers. Also called SWEET POTATO) and not oca
(a South American plant related to wood sorrel, long cultivated
in Peru for its edible tubers) was it with some sense of extinction

that you drew one’s reed and not the other’s? Are you irked
that deep within the esses a schooner and a schnauzer sit side by side
of equal size, your precision compromised by an error of scale?

Was stirrup drawn from life or memory? And snifter? Stethoscope? Who
stocks his studio with such a strange menagerie? The same one,
perhaps, paid to render swastika and Pol Pot, pictured in a mandarin collar

under his given name, Saloth Sar? I have questions for you, gentle artists,
as I thumb among culottes and cummerbunds. And even if you never
think of me, I think of you when I land on Inverness 2 – a sleeveless cloak

with a removable cape – and I hope you are warm there, bent
over your drafting tables, inventing methods to one day depict nonesuch
as you have mantilla, mantis.



It arrives on time. You must know
whether or not you will it,
it will.

The promised pacifier of griefs,
the unlabelled envelope
of being, is undelivered.

A crimson hassock
floats vacant in the bowl.

A poppy that grew in
is cast out, crimson,
only to be sewn again.

You undress, your flesh puckers
to the cold room, you step
into the jet of water.

The drain pulls everything
away. Water washes
the blood off the blood so you can see

those pieces of you
Inside finally out.