The Tiny Plane I Boarded on Mid-Tour Leave While Traveling from Pittsburgh, PA to Ashland, KY

 

As if exploding Iraqi mortars weren’t
enough to seize the heart,
I had to venture home
on a single-engine prop
from Pittsburgh to Kentucky.

 

I trudged the tarmac to the Piper.
A hot breeze
smoothed my hair.
Looking back, I spied behind
the green terminal glass two boys
pointing, laughing.

 

Before the flight, the pilot readjusted
my bags to shift the load.
He patted them in place.
               Just right.

 

He wore
an aviator’s cap
as a joke.

 

We climbed aboard.

 

We stooped to sidle the aisle.
I sat in front
               for weight.

 

When the propeller first lurched,
the pilot shouted
               Contact!

 

We were the only two
aboard.

 

The plane lifted
like a leaf from the strip,
fluttered, shuddered,
pitching in the crosswind.

 

The instruments danced
to St. Vitus’ latest.

 

We settled in.

 

The pilot cracked open a coke,
slid the can between his legs
and thumbed a manual
as he peered
at a needle quivering
in the red.

 

As we banked,
it was the earth instead
which tilted left, then
righted itself.

 

It was the earth which
shot beneath us
like the green belt of a treadmill.

 

Trees and trees and trees
and green trees fully open,

 

beneath us
at the apex of their bursting.

 

 

 

 

About the Author

Paul David Adkins served in the US Army for over 21 years. His collections include “Flying Over Baghdad with Sylvia Plath,” “Operational Terms and Graphics,” and “La Dona, La Llorona.” He lives in NY and teaches in a penitentiary.