Six months pregnant

one last flight south

Familiar security guard scans my swollen belly

Maternity leave, relief

less than a week away.

Recite a relaxation mantra,

Which pre-natal pattern to calm this fear?


Dash-8, both propellers wrestle the wind

Lurch, ride the turbulent air

Fuselage twists, shakes

Walls alive with movement

Like a squirming bucket of fish bait

Everything’s distorted, focus

on the glowing screen of the laptop computer,

Will the keyboard not stay still for a minute?


The compact computer levitates, suddenly

four inches off the table tray

crashes down with a hollow plastic thud.

Someone screams, a stranger’s eyes lock with mine

A nervous smile across the aisle

Alone in my seat, he seems

so far away, would he mind if I held his hand?


Flash to another flight,

an explosion, passengers plunged

to earth, clothing ripped

from their flesh as they fell

alive, into the ocean.

Some didn’t die

right away.

Some survived

the fall.

Can’t breathe, I’ve forgotten how.

Feels like a medicine ball

crushing my chest.

Hands clutch the flimsy armrest

I stare down at a vulnerable, protruding

basketball of flesh

Will we count as one death or two?


The pilot’s voice apologetic

Crackles a garbled message

Ears pop as plane drops

Closer to earth now but still rough

ride the blustery air, buffeted by wind

Will the personal flotation device

cushion the impact of a prairie field?


Transition breathing now

Landing is imminent.

It’ll all be over soon,

one way or another.

Then it’s another flight back.

Do it all over again.

Would my husband mind if I held a stranger’s hand?



May, 2004

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