Airplane Hill




My father is a big man

so big he once

heaved the kitchen table

out the front door

of our sturdy red-brick

single story home


did so easily


and with such velocity

it splintered impacting

the lawn and continued on

manic tumbleweed

that cleared the horizon


I hauled a plastic folding card table

from the basement

and wiped it down

with bleach but couldn’t

get the smell out of my nose


So we moved to the floors

still holding the outline

meals taken without four legs


It was after this that my father

took my hand and we

walked up the hill and through

the wheat field

to the trailer park at its edge

serpentine s-curves

occupying a long narrow middle

abutted by a single lane of tarmac

for the amateur pilots

whose single props buzzed low

for the landing


I remember we were looking to rent


It’s easy to paint grain

in golds imbue it with luster

forget the soil and pig shit

but where the field met the landing strip,

I found it glinting in the

wake of engine exhaust

the stalks gilded by sunlight and mirage


And this is impossible

which is to say:

single props don’t weave great wakes

I cannot say

if this is present memory

playing field medic

or child’s imagination,

a-not-knowing if the paint is still wet


This is a liturgy of finding.

Child’s piety.


Which is to say:


I would dig in the soul seeking incantations


ablutions in the muddy stream


common stone found and named talisman


I would remember all this with hot cheeks

and sweaty palm in my father’s hand

passing scrub yards

like so many slipped discs

the vertebrae gone

rectangles 10 by 30

the insides

plastic and stain and rot


I stayed in that same sturdy

red-brick ranch house

until I left home


One year later

a tornado tore it

from its foundation

and the whole field

and each lot


did so easily


They would find the residents

ten years a field

eyes still swiveling

shiny and concussed


Which is to say:

there was no tornado

but the rest is true