portion of the artwork for David Rosenheim's poem

Why I Cry on Airplanes
David Rosenheim

It’s Tuesday and the century is still new
I am on a plane, hurtling from LA to San Francisco
there is a commercial on TV
something about a Chevy truck, a farm, a homecoming
I cry as ever on flights—I don’t know why
the thin air maybe
or fact of leaving
loosens me until I am soft with
thoughts of you, the boys
fear of change and aloneness
but also beauty—the symmetry of nature
any half-wrought Hallmark sentiment
in magazine or on TV
will give rise to the ache in my throat
I don’t like the way these things make me cry
though they often do

the sea below a brilliant matrix of
sunlight and shadow
Channel Islands sit like jewels caught in gossamer
each a world within a world
alone but infinitely connected
this too chokes me up

the sky mingles with space at this height
its blue becomes indigo
closer to bright moon and stars
those burning, self-consuming stars
who, like us began as sparks showered into the blackness
(before which we were one)
those cold stars
who awakened the ache in ancestors
the ache of separation that
makes me ache like a hollow gut-drum

I remember the pillow soft grass
above Lake Michigan
my first love
her tongue tart with wine her
leg bones wrapped around me the first time
this sweetness too aches because it is so far gone

from here the brown hills of California
an endless rippled sea
the ache of these hills where
as young men we lost our way hiking
ran out of water
our destined hilltop pool
but cracked clay and fish bones
we nearly expired that day
the furnace of August
our heads singing from thirst
the sky black with crows

I press my forehead to the plastic inner window
great American highway below
vein-work of the California corpus
the 5 begets state highways
county roads
rural capillaries
the road makes me ache—its constant yearning
you—the country lane
somewhere between Memphis and Wisconsin
salt of your neck
even then the ache of our souls converging
the ache of intimacy

we begin our descent
trees and buildings gain definition
proximity of home
the ache of arrival
strangeness of reappearing in one’s life after being away
my children grow in bent time
the ache of impermanence
my love transfigures
we lurch toward the city at unnatural speed

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FRiGG: A Magazine of Fiction and Poetry | Issue 47 | Spring 2016