Prelude to an Elegy, 18,000 Feet

The no-smoking sign glows with its little flame,
flickers when the plane drops. I’m nowhere
above somewhere – rows of seat backs
like tombstones – waiting for a wing to rip,
waiting to fall – cockeyed – through a cloud –
trail of ash – evidence rinsed by rain.
A girl next to me – maybe twenty – clings
to the knee of a girl next to her – a terrifying age
to die. Only minutes ago they flipped
through catalogs, pointing at blouses they might
buy. Now I imagine they imagine clothes
that might spill from suitcases, which dress
might catch in a tree – billow like a girl
dancing alone until even the wind dies.
I wonder what they regret – who they never
slept with – and if their panties will float,
anonymous, into a corn field. I wonder
who will kneel for them, inconsolable.

Cindy Hunter Morgan teaches creative writing at Michigan State University. Her full-length manuscript of poems informed by Great Lakes shipwrecks is forthcoming from Wayne State University Press. She also is the author of two chapbooks. The Sultan, The Skater, The Bicycle Maker won The Ledge Press 2011 Poetry Chapbook Competition. Apple Season won the Midwest Writing Center's 2012 Chapbook Contest, judged by Shane McCrae. Her poems have appeared in a variety of journals, including West Branch, Salamander, and Sugar House Review.