Smaller, and Farther Away

He is flying east again, thinking about his ex-girlfriend. She was a perfect cupcake, just the right size, with frosting. Toenails like tiny fire engines. Watching the little screen, no sound, noticing the way the actress enunciates, the way she flips her hair. He thinks of her naked with her hair pulled back off her face, her cheekbones and pointy chin. No more pretzels. The woman in 22D has trail mix. She used to bring him cookies, little treats, let him finish her meals. The pills help his anxiety but don’t stop the sadness. The turbulents are smoothing out. The flight attendent glides up the aisle, like a dancer, away from him. He can’t bear to watch them do those hand motions indicating the locations of the overwing exits. From 22C he cannot see the famous skyline, the oil tanks like little watch batteries. He looks at the models in the magazine ads. He will continue to age, but she will always look the same in his memory, except smaller and farther away.



When I heard her say she was so tired of cooking that she didn’t care whether she ate or not this Thanksgiving, I knew that voice, I had heard it in my head, that feeling like the whole world is the ball on the chain of your bitterness, even if it’s just a frozen turkey.

A Poem by Richard Wilbur

I have never reprinted another’s work here, but this moved me so, a poem constructed in the form of 5 haiku stanzas by Richard Wilbur, published in The New Yorker in 2008. 


This yellow striped green
Caterpillar, climbing up
The steep window screen,

Constantly (for lack
Of a full set of legs) keeps
Humping up his back.

It’s as if he sent
By a sort of semaphore
Dark omegas meant

To warn of Last Things.
Although he doesn’t know it,
He will soon have wings,

And I, too, don’t know
Toward what undreamt condition
Inch by inch I go.