In the Flying Box
by Elena Harap
Half-light, a roar of man-made wind
and bodies rest under green and blue wool blankets,
dreaming a bridge all the way to Shanghai.
Gifts in carry-on bags are stowed overhead,
underfoot, piled on empty seats
over Anchorage, over Beijing. Mrs. Liang
hopes the baby clothes will fit her new grandson
and Mr. Hsu is bringing tapes
for his sisters, American rap;
the Sherwoods suppose their copies of Wild Swans
and Oracle Bones will pass the customs check.
A twilight equality reigns. No one knows what time it is;
democratic limbo in the upper atmosphere
will last until they all touch down, even after, until
emerging from jet lag they take on specificity,
class, dialect, webs of responsibility. Losing a day
by human computation, they gain an odd lesson
in compassion, these sleepers risking all they have, time itself,
to get to China in a flying box.
Copyright © 2017 by Elena Harap.