watching the way your hands move
when you talk
is like falling through clouds
they let all the killer whales
back out into the wild
after the public turned their backs on them
too afraid to watch them kill another person
all the killer whale trainers walk around the water parks,
listless and heavy-eyed
tapping on the glass
hearing ghost whale noises.
they still need us
we are indispensable
now the seals are the main attraction, cos
the seals don’t love anyone
the way they love us
I hold your hand as we clean out the tanks,
rub the glass with chux and enviro-safe detergent,
it’s awkward but nice and
I mop the concrete floors with my free hand
For years, planes terrified me.
I was so profoundly aware of the height
Of the sheer unlikelihood of being there,
Nesting in the clouds
Held up by ingenuity and hope.
I could feel every airy inch from the ground
With every bump, kaleidoscopes of gory outcomes
Danced behind my eyes.
Now, I’ve replaced my fear
With a sort of fluffy, pink lack of comprehension.
The way a parent cocks an ear to a son’s door
And placidly chuckles at the music seeping through.
I’ve finally decided that I can’t actually be airborne.
It‘s just not feasible. It’s all pretend.
And so I sit for an hour or so in a metal capsule
While swarthy men turn handles below the plane
Which move the delicately painted backdrop
Beneath the windows.
A smoke machine, a few hydraulics
It’s all for show.
Everyone here is in on it.
The glassy flight attendants, the sweaty businessmen.
All of them.
Except, perhaps, the Chinese woman in the row behind
Clutching a doll of a child who can’t be alive
Can’t be that perfect, that still.
That poor woman. Shunted onto an impossible flight
To grieve an impossible life
Face as serene as a painted lake
Not daring to look at her grim little bundle
Which won’t stir, not even at the thump of landing
Not even when we all file off onto the same tarmac we left
Where, through some trick of the light
The streets look a little different
But I know better.