A woman who has turned gray in the air
the airline stewardess down the aisles,
fitting her new body between tight rows
that weren't meant for her.
After nine eleven, they went back
into the years
for those who know the air those who once
breathed in the sky through thin nostril passages
those with bomb-sniffing tubes in their heads
so we can sit safe on air.
I place my rough hands in my lap
All the tiny girls with their soft faces have been
replaced by the strong ones
those who know us so well, they are as
reliable as water down
the throat of a canal.
You have to see her lifting those arms,
her now frail flesh, serious eyes, and voice.
She'd stood on air so many
years, it became solid ground
beneath her large feet.
One of these days, we should give her
a medal. We should all line up beside
the plane upon landing, and give
her the Bronze Star for not
letting us drown
in the Atlantic.
Patricia Jabbeh Wesley
Patricia Jabbeh Wesley was born in Monrovia, Liberia. Her books of poetry include Becoming Ebony (Southern Illinois University Press) and Before the Palm Could Bloom: Poems of Africa (New Issues Press). She teaches writing at Penn State-Altoona. Many writers featured in Chapter & Verse are guests of Prosody, produced by Jan Beatty and Ellen Wadey. Prosody airs every Tuesday at 7 p.m. on independent radio, WYEP 91.3 FM.