Night Crossing

Taking off from Charleston’s dark humidity,
we split the night into two hemispheres,
our silver nail slicing through the sky’s black peel.

Shades of day pull across the East Coast.
Stars play their figure games above and below.
Flying north, cities I’ve never been to float beneath me
like islands of light. Night travels without time.

Laid over in Bangor, white sheets of fog,
opaque morning shining its stupid grin,
we take off again into a yellow hole of sun.

Soon, nothing but blue of sky, blue of water,
white tips of clouds, then the white inside.
Somewhere below, the Atlantic rolls like a giant
turning over, its gaping mouth as large as the sky.

Thirteen and awkward, with hair out to there,
with hands and eyes refusing to sleep, with Chuck
Taylor All Stars and three brothers, and no one
to talk to, with a mother and a father waiting

to meet us, with bell bottoms and silk shirts
and the idea of disco just discovered, I sit restless
one seat away from the window, the man between
wearing his skin like a dream of green armies.

I never slept on trips anyway, the wavering head
between the seats, reading every sign, asking
how much further, how high, where the rain is kept.

On this one I kept the light on and read Nick Adams
“Crossing the Mississippi,” “The Last Good Country,”
and “Night Before Landing.” One glimpse of land
above England, a fantasy of white cliffs, then fog again.

Looking up in time to touch down in nowhere
I’d ever imagined, colder than I’d ever been
in August, colder than I thought it could be.

Author of 4 collections of poetry and more than 400 poems published in various journals and anthologies, Scott Owens is editor of Wild Goose Poetry Review, author of “Musings” (a weekly poetry column), and founder of Poetry Hickory.  He teaches creative writing at Catawba Valley Community College and has been nominated for two Pushcart Prizes.

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