156 feet of meat and cargo joggled above a darkening nothing of clouds, a drowned sky, some city in Washington, then Oregon, then he lost track of states on his way to New Orleans. He had to bury his mother. In the tiny mirror his face looked like his own but sweatier, seizing with the Boeing's jostle and shock. How many planes had he boarded today? All nausea, all innards in upheaval. His head, muddled puddle of a brain, defiant, worked in spurts. His wife guiding him gate to gate, plane to plane. It was agony conforming to new heights, to hit the ground. He was a ball juggled into the air, New Mexican air, Texan air. Where are you going, the girl asked, a tiny thing. Where was he from? His wife winked sweetly at the girl as a mother might. Grief, some vague haze, came, left, returned with a convulsion under his ribs. Pressure orchestrated his chest, his stomach. He was a marionette; he couldn't remember his middle name. Eyes open, his throat constricted. Eyes shut, he tasted the acid of his lunch, some fevered remembrance, everything corrupted by upswings and downturns, the dark abyss of storm-invaded sky, swamps of clouds. A turbulent drub against the plane like a child's tantrum fists.


Michelle McMillan-Holifield studied poetry at Delta State University in the Mississippi Delta and recently completed a writer’s residency at Wild Acres Retreat in North Carolina. Her work has been included in or is forthcoming in Boxcar Poetry Review, Found Poetry Review, poemmemoirstory, Silver Birch Press’s Nancy Drew Anthology, Stirring, The Collagist, Toasted Cheese, Whale Road Review and Windhover among others.