Ode to an Aviatrix

— Bethany Carlson

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.


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