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Anxiety Attack at 27,000 Feet

By Nicholas Samaras

What is that red throbbing over the sound of engines?
Why is a distant war still being talked about in the media?
I can't see my home or Iraq or the Middle East
outside this bowed rectangle of blue altitude.
Who brought these children here?
How will this raven-haired girl grow into her life?
There is no way I can die with this room full of Bostonians.
Why is the serrated coast of New York approaching so rapidly?
How many of these faces will separate before the plane lands?
We go blind in this whiteness as my stomach descends
and, somewhere far in the back, I can hear an animal wailing.
Why am I wearing this black suit of my comfortable life?
Into what country will we even touch down? What if we splinter
and explode upon landing, the moment of our most hope and relief?
How will my body feel enjoined to metal, shrouded in upholstery?
I wish everyone peace, as we slam into the earth of our making.
But what is that red throbbing and these murmurs building?
What are all these stern looks of kindness and concern
as hands hold my hands and place the mask over my breathing face?

Added: Tuesday, July 15, 2014  /  Used with permission.
Nicholas Samaras

Nicholas Samaras is the author of Hands of the Saddlemaker (Yale University Press, 1992) and American Psalm, World Psalm (Ashland Poetry Press, 2014). He works in the genres of poetry and memoir essays.

Other poems by this author