Today's poem is by Jeanne Murray Walker

Melting Pot

As the alarm shrilled through the twelve-seater,
         as the pilot scrambled for his manual,
                 I wanted someone to stand up
and lead us in song,
         or possibly prayer,

but we sat beneath our personal
         air nozzles, unable to shake
                 our useful habit of reserve.
Beside me a man read Newsweek.
         A girl pulled out her barf bag

as I thought of sending my voice out
         like a skater on a pond to say something
                 true and beautiful and daring,
how not a sparrow, maybe,
         falls without notice,

but our plane was yo-yoing
         like a heart machine gone bonkers
                 graphing the steep W's
of our collective fall
         and my voice burrowed

for safety in my chest
         and I turned, we all turned
                 to our captain, a simple boy in earphones
fighting to steer the little duck
         paddling for its life

in a dark, anonymous sky
         and I thought how odd it was
                 that our names would appear
together in the papers,
         like the cast of a musical,

we who each died alone, without ritual or touching.

Copyright © 2003 Jeanne Murray Walker All rights reserved
from Southern Review
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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