“A Human Heart, Left Aboard, Sends Airplane Back to Where it Started”
THIS WAS A PILOT coming on the intercom: Good
morning. Sorry for the inconvenience—blah blah.
In the cargo hold, the blue cooler had been forgotten,
the Christmas-glut of overnight freight the justification.
This was one hundred and forty aggravated passengers.
This was Southwest Flight 3606 turning the fuck around,
in a winter rainstorm over Idaho, to return life-critical cargo
to Seattle, the air above a drought-dry republic and the heart-
as-air-freight the present-day equivalent of combustion.
If the smell after rain has a name—petrichor—then the Divine
(who doesn’t consider organ donation an act of selflessness)
and, accordingly, holy?) and the human exist side by side.
A heart in the belly of Airbus A300—theologians say
that’s apostasy. You can’t have God ‘in with the luggage,”
so to speak, although that’s why they turned the airplane
around somewhere mid-route—what’s a five-hour delay
to the living? Besides, aren’t pretzel fripperies His body,
the Coke or Pepsi or booze, to wash it down, His blood?
“Fallout, or the Mother Tongue of Pinocchio Was the Wind Through the Trees”
THINK OF THE OCTOBER you read Pinocchio
by flashlight inside the bomb shelter model,
left to play or read while your entrepreneurial
father accomplished small miracles in his shop,
development housing spreading in all directions
and across the horizon, cacophonous Ohio traffic
leaking into the concrete-block model like fallout,
like you guessed invisible charged particles behave
or so they demonstrated with charts and a short film
after civil defense drills at Rolling Fields Elementary.
Remember descriptions of Gepetto’s yellow hairpiece,
the metaphor of the “pudding made with Indian corn.”
Remember the drab-shabby rooms Gepetto occupied,
how he wanted a real son. Like having a son is nice.
You grappled with a faux-child Pinocchio striving
to be both boy and well-behaved. Remember the
footnotes explaining Italian words and phrases,
though no footnote explained why Russia was
threatening to end life or why a puppetmaster
helped you understand the use of missiles
carrying multiple thermonuclear warheads.
With a lipstick-red Ray-O-Vac flashlight
you read in the dim: Imagine Gespetto’s
surprise when the eyes moved
and stared fixed at him…