The National Poetry Review

Emma Aylor

FLYING BACK AT NIGHT

Time comes to seem liquid from seat 16E at the trailing skirt of a day
I can’t quite see to end. How arbitrary travel makes context
seem. We’re not here because we chose:

we are here because something set us in air now made
dark, what larger gave us seatmates and destinations. The tended
swing I feel for the women on either side; the book I read

marked by your hand, slipped from your shelf; your high plains dust
in the shallowing lines of my shoes—I take it back
to Seattle to rest in my studio, with windows

at just one end like the shoebox dioramas I constructed
in grade school. We placed figures of paper in cotton ball ground:
angels and crosses cut out, or nativities, Christs, these propped

and glued under a lid made divine by clean pressures
of pencils through. We called stars to see our heavens by.
You might look in on me cut myself with the cat

and set on the couch, thinking of you away and yet here
as an image nearly more felt than seen, palpable as the rivers of Texas
below my seat when I take off at dusk, bowing gray-mauve, matte—

rivers at touch softly falling, too, like your weeping willows there,
and like the thinnest crescent moon that you saw and showed me
as it slouched to set our rare edges just after the sun.


EMMA AYLOR’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in 32 Poems, New Ohio Review, Pleiades, Colorado Review, and Cincinnati Review, among other journals, and she received Shenandoah’s 2020 Graybeal-Gowen Prize for Virginia Poets. She lives in Lubbock, Texas.

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