for Katherine Sui Fun Cheung
Whole continents teem with your static
loveliness. Pieces of sky sugar down
in excelsis, touch airways you’ve hallowed
& conquered in wingspan, red-tipped dust.
As the cockpit sun skids down your arm,
dear aviatrix, we see the hollows of your face
framed in surfaces: island shallows blue, isometric;
mountaintops shagged in ice.
And we know Ascension is this: the breaking
of day around us, pulsing the way a new heart
might pulse—or pivot on its transatlantic axis.
But things have a way of turning red
when you’d least expect: coordinates go
missing, a flare gun loses its savory, vines
trawl across terminals, make imposing demands.
At dusk, these runways unfurl their dark:
skein of veins, a map unspooling
at the base of your flawless skull.