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One of These Days, We Should Give Her a Medal 

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

and swallow.

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.

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