Make-A-Wish Vacation

— Shalini Rana

My brother stopped breathing
On our plane to Disney World

& where mom’s sitting, in the aisle
Seat, there’s now an empty space

& the seatbelt’s an ampersand
Splayed across cushion. I tell the man

In the window seat the boy
Who stopped breathing is my brother

& he distracts me with a wallet photo,
Chats about his daughter

& I smile, but the sun through the window
Is a blister bursting on my cheek

& I smile but keep glancing
At the big comma in the middle of the aisle,

Which equals brother. Mom’s body moves
Through the motions of emergency

& here in the air, her face
Sets like a reddened sun.

I thought this trip would let us
Pretend, play a wallet-photo family:

            Mom’s face, red-sad sun—
            I thought so wrong.

Read more from Issue No. 29 or share on Twitter.