Flying, a list

by M. Soledad Caballero


Halfway through a flight, I look around and think, these are the
people I might die with.

Thousands of children have been thrown into planes, across the
sky. No one knows where they have landed, if they landed,

When walking down the tunnel to the plane, I am whispering
rosaries to Mary and God. I say them under my breath like a song
with no tune.

In small groups dressed all the same, with a guardian who
demands the children speak to no one, they sit mute in the air.

When I was seven, we left a thin land quietly, never imagining we
would not return. That plane ride is like my bones or breath, I
dream it nightly still, even awake.

The threshold between the tunnel to the plane and the plane is
holy, I cross over it as I cross myself.

There is a small sliver of joy when I fly over land and not water.
My sister is afraid of sharks in the water, so now I also worry about
being eaten in the water. Because I survive the crash.

On top of everything they keep hidden inside their skin, all the
fear, the hunger, the danger, the memories of Abuelos and primos,
they are hurtled across sky in metal tin cans to other states where
no one loves them.

Cancer has done nothing for my fear of flying. I worry my whole
self into madness just the same at 35,000 feet.

Children’s bodies suspended in space, never having been on a
plane. Ears popping, pressed against seats, metal buckles strapped
across thin shirts. Safety instructions mumbled in hard English,
hard like the desert and barbed wire of the first journey.

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