Contrails

            —after a photograph by Colleen MacLaughlin

One answer lies in the tropospheric molecules scattering
short blue waves and vapor meeting minus-sixty. But

what’s the burning question? What orders the eye, the
brain, to catch all the colors after rain? What comprehends

a handful of sand, November’s endless branches of birds?
I’m bowed down by the simply phenomenal, the asymmetric

stain of mulberry crushed on concrete, what was sown that
now reveals its long green line. Yesterday, mountainous

clouds turned our Midwest horizon into I-76’s Wiggins’s
vision of the Colorado Rockies, and any headfirst plunge

off my cautious stage in this life supplies the slickest look
at all I never see. Forget insipid interpretations, how the jet

streaking seven miles above your sweetheart blazes the trail
connecting her to you. In a blink, or maybe in a day, those

contrails, heavy as the thin air they cleave, will leave you,
expanding, disbandingly unparalleled into a marbled blue.

This is a reprint of work originally published in Rattle.

D. R. James has taught writing, literature, and peace-making at a small, Midwestern college for 33 years, and lives and writes in the woods east of Saugatuck, Michigan. Poems and prose appear in various journals and anthologies, and his most recent of seven poetry collections are If god were gentle (Dos Madres Press) and the chapbooks Split-Level and Why War (both Finishing Line Press). His Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/author/drjamesauthorpage.

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