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“Do not step out of this area.” Words written on the wing the plane

From this window seat sweet 
puffs of white disguise irregular 
quadrilaterals, webs of roofs 
and roads to make our countryside 
serene. Below, it’s all turbulence, 
potholes, debris in the ditch. 
The neighbor takes his political sign 
and aims it where only we can see it. 
Though we’ve never spoken, he thinks |
we’re communists. The election is 150 
days over. His faded Dixie flag 
is pinned to his back shed. I am miles 
up and away from our backyard. 
Below, black men die by people employed
to keep the peace, overnight shipping
workers are shot, a virus variant
mutates, a 20-year war will pass 
the plate to different victims, a child 
calls my son a maggot, with an F.
We point to the sky and address 
the “man upstairs,” shoot up prayers 
like heroin, but I’m upstairs, I’m up
here. There is only water frozen
to miniscule ice crystals lighter
than air, suspended on an indifferent
cliff of atmosphere. From up here,
people on each green and brown
patch of earth are just maggots, frenzied
larva eating filth to hatch as flies. We
keep feeding off of someone else’s grief.
We build our political position on pain. 
Come down. Cross the yard. I baked you 
cookies. My son loves the woods just like 
you. Do you know what that word means? 
It’s easier up here. The view provides 
perspective but it’s deceptive. 
All the squares and webs are connected 
as if roads are all it takes to build bridges. 
Walk a mile any direction, you’ll pass
a hundred other universes you will never
be able to enter, each human a galaxy
of dreams and perimeters they hasten
to buttress or break down, depending
on what leads, fear or love. Jesus Christ,
step out of this area. Free fall away
from the kingdom of heaven, strap
on your human suit and make the body
of Christ humane again. In the webs
of roofs and parking lots catch 
hatched maggots that eat excrement 
in the stickiness of grace and justice.
We are entering our final descent.
Now that we’re about to touch down,
what is it you have to say? What is it
you plan to do with this one flesh-
eating, spirit-needing life?

Photo by Cole Keister on Unsplash

Sarah M. Wells

Sarah M. Wells is the author of The Family Bible Devotional Volumes 1 and 2, a memoir, American Honey: A Field Guide to Resisting Temptation (forthcoming), and two collections of poemsBetween the Heron and the Moss and Pruning Burning Bushes. Poems and essays by Wells have appeared in Ascent, Brevity, Full Grown People, Hippocampus Review, The Pinch, River Teeth, Rock & Sling, Under the Gum TreeTerrain.org and elsewhere. Sarah’s work has been honored with four Pushcart Prize nominations. Six of her essays have been listed as Notable Essays in The Best American Essays. She is a 2018 recipient of an Ohio Individual Excellence Award from the Ohio Arts Council. Sarah earned her BA in Creative Writing and MFA in Creative Nonfiction from Ashland University. She is a regular contributor to Root & Vine News and God Hears Her, a blog for women, from Our Daily Bread. She resides in Ashland, Ohio with her husband, Brandon, and their four children, Lydia, Elvis, Henry, and Izzy (their Westie).

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