Flight West

Photo: “Black Hole Sun,” by Omar Willey. CC-BY 4.0.

for Chris Cornell

Allow me memory
of these stashes
of snow, crazy-shaped lakes, acres
inhabited only by deer
and voles—his soulful wail
inside a room of my mind,
waiting like a stone.

Yellow sun, here we come
hurtling into perpetual sunset,
into brightening fuzzy crests
of close-knit rows of cumulus.
When will we leave behind the Northern Plains?
Be over the Rockies? As we fly
past a thunder-headed tower in neon rose

and indigo, the jet judders,
turbulence predictable:
the faraway storm made it so.
No one can stop the clock.
No one can turn it back. No one
ever gets to know what wrecked
or joyous thoughts (accident or

addiction) wracked my grunge star’s last breaths.
Allow my railing at unfairness
of brain chemistry, at unfathomably bad timing
of the musician in this instance
of crux. Despair meshes with cosmic glory—
why didn’t he take in this fact?
Above the stratus, no matter how desolate

a downpour—how like drowning rats
we are below, it is always sunny
and blue, and sunsets, when flying west, last
forever and ever, amen.
We move across; clouds wait,
accumulating ice.
Can you believe they are flocks

of airborne crystals? Why did he leave
this world where there are anvil clouds?
I see the first sinuous ridges wend
into a smattering of pointed peaks, white
at the end of May. A gorgeous boiling maw
yawns in the west. We all
know where we are going,

so tell me why he had to leave
before we landed?
I longed to carry him as a living talisman
of the bond with my son
(who as an adolescent presented me
to his bands). On trips to school
and soccer matches, we sang along,

and wash away the rain …
I’m old enough to understand the setup
and to be thankful for the grandeur
of anvil clouds. All I wish is to catalog
the colors in my eyes (while blocking
direct rays to save my sight).
An elegant burning crescendo,

a tangerine stripe, vanishes. Don’t leave
without telling me why.
Here are smoggy horizontal strands.
Isn’t it too early in the year
for forest smoke? Absolutely
every planetary thing becomes
a shade of black. We know

the sun still exists then, but only in our intellects.
Evidence is slim when the day is done.
No one will sing like him anymore.

Categories Poetry

Pamela Hobart Carter loves Seattle as much for its water and mountains as for its bustle and creativity. She explores the Emerald City daily while walking her dog. Carter used to be a teacher who wrote on the side. Now she is a writer who teaches on the side.

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