it is not:


                        a sunrise east coast flight drenched in stranger dust
                        with the iridescent promise of familiarity whispering
                        through the coating, through the powder,
                        a head three rows forward just visible
                        across the scant stretch of seatbacks

                        quiet and vulnerable in the takeoff glow


                                                                        a midday bus ride in a city that is at once
                                                                        both the city we just left and the city
                                                                        we will never see again, congested with
                                                                        shadows of Jersey potential
                                                                        and purgatorial impressions, a river,
                                                                        a Cracker Barrel every hundred yards


a river that is not so much purgatory
as the promise of, the pain of, the
harrowing avocado-colored hint
of the night’s forebodings that will become
tomorrow’s recollected nightmares,
all vaguely tinged with garbage,
all vaguely holding a barge afloat,
just barely


                        a vanishing, a splintered kneecap
                        bass drum loud in the hallowed air,
                        aching but not expecting and begging but not demanding,
                        the abject inhale preluding collapse and
                        the abrupt glottal betrayal signifying “can’t”


                                                                        the terminal

it is not because it can’t be

                                                                                                all that can be hoped for:

                                                                                                the crepuscule,
                                                                                                the virgule,
                                                                                                the hasty airport departure after
                                                                                                the night flight home

Michelle Lesniak is a graduate student of English with a BA in English from The College of New Jersey. She spends her time writing, creating music, painting with watercolors, and trying hard not to try too hard.

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