Audio: Read by the author.
Two flights home, hinged by Fort Worth.
The strange nothingness
of flying: without routine, time
fell away. I read. I slept. The man beside me shook
his cup. The ice rattled like dice.
Sometimes in the sound and the light
it grows so still
it’s possible to forget
you are moving through the air.
I had left friends; I thought of them: Noah laughing in the smoke
of the garden, the worn red carpet
in the dark lounge, sitting all night
at the bar with Marie, wishing to tell her
how much I’d missed her, saying instead
we always just miss each other.
I don’t know when I’ll see them again.
In the story, Lily Briscoe returns to the empty house
and falls asleep to the sound of the sea.
Sunlight through the window
touched my knee. Putting down the book,
I let the edges of the pages
roll across my thumb
like the wheel of a lighter.
The depth of the darkness
when I closed my eyes
was so entire I opened them again
to reassure myself
the world was there around me.
Earlier in the week, in a different city,
I’d turned a corner
to find I was just a block away
from the house where I was born.
Kind, tall, drowsy
in the late-day wind,
the ash trees rose
like giant people.
Knowing they had been there
before me and will be
long after, I walked the street
slowly, touching my hand
against the trunk of each one.
Grady Chambers is the author of North American Stadiums (Milkweed), winner of the inaugural Max Ritvo Poetry Prize. His poems have appeared in the Paris Review, Ploughshares, American Poetry Review, Boulevard, and elsewhere. A former Wallace Stegner Fellow, he lives in Philadelphia.