Italy

i.

The plane came in a wooden crate. Straw stuck between the planks, making the crate look hairy. It was sitting on my porch, next to the Cracker Barrel rocking chairs. It looked like something that crawled up there to sell me something and forgot why came. I parked and took the crowbar from the garage. Prying off the boards felt like scapling a child. I dug through the straw. It was only the propeller and some bolts, nuts, a piece of plexi glass. I had to wait a week for the rest of it.

Meanwhile I felt famous in the TV glow. If I put my hand in front of my face, the light made my fingers look radioactive. I needed this. I had been alone too long.

ii.

Becoming twenty seven years of age, I find myself in the clouds. Up close, they’re a sort of cool mist on your face, or maybe it’s my propeller is chewing them up. It’s my birthday. I assembled the prop plane from a kit through a magazine. I think it was Boy’s Life.

And being recently unloved I find my sense of things spackled on the smallest scale. What I mean is there are no breaks, no lapses in thought. I can feel the dime-thin lining of my stomach. I am aware of my body. My knees are cramped in the cockpit. My toes itch and I can’t scratch them.

Below me, billowing out on all sides, is an ocean. It might be the Pacific, I can’t remember which. I’ve heard it described as a blanket but that’s not quite right. It’s beautiful when the sun rises, gold in places, diamond ridges on the waves when I drop in close. I’ve been flying for weeks. You’d be surprised how nice it is to sleep with a wind in your face, like something soft uncoiling from within you.

 

iii.

When people kiss you, they put their voices in your head. Hers sounds like this:

so many dashing young men with their tan bodies out working on the farm some people call them italian stallions but I don’t call them anything until later when they come into my bedroom and rail me all of them in a row having their ways with me ways you don’t know I hope that doesn’t upset you but my opinion of you is not much at all

 You see, she never asks me any questions.

She had the most beautiful hair, the most beautiful teeth. I taught her in a class where we wrote fiction from exercises, hers always the best. And now she’s gone across the water to a country I don’t know, and I can feel through my toes that I’ve lost her. I’ve lost the only woman I’ve loved.

 

iv.

I’ve lifted up now, above the clouds so they’re a long, thin wool blanket beneath me. I can see the ocean in spots through the breaks and at night the stars are so close I can catch them, put them in a jar for later. When I see her, I’ll show her the stars. Look what I’ve brought you, look what I’ve done. I made a plane for you. I came for you. I came across the ocean for you and I’ve brought everything I have.

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