Coming back, I was high in the air
though my father had just been buried
a few days after his and my mother’s
forty-sixth anniversary. I’d changed
planes in St. Louis—that Arch, that river—
and rectangles of farmland below
were bare and brown. Early November.
The plane descended toward our town,
but didn’t land—circled once, then again.
The captain announced that coyotes
were on the runway, and we’d land
once they were out of the way.
With my face against the little window
as we banked and turned, I watched
half a dozen lean ghosts disappear
into the tall grass.


Matthew Murrey’s poems have appeared in various journals such as Tar River Poetry, Poetry East, and Rattle. He has received an NEA Fellowship in Poetry, and his first book manuscript is seeking a publisher. He worked as a mental health clinician for many years, but is now a high school librarian. He lives in Urbana, Illinois with his partner; they have two grown sons who live in the Pacific Northwest. His website is