Collateral

Let me begin by saying I love them all.

The tall girl with big shoulders two rows up,

her Adidas shoes white and new. In the seat

behind me, the prattling boy whose mother,

doubtless, fears the pressure already thumbing

his tiny eardrums, the pink cochlea as yet

untested. I love the pilot, whose words reveal

the slightest hint of a boyhood spent in Virginia.

For years I’ve crossed myself before every take-off,

a trailing habit from decades in Catholic school.

Now I do it purposefully, an act of love for every

beating heart whose life I’ve risked by choosing

my own poisoned desires. When this plane

goes down, as I’m convinced it will, save

them, not me, who was once beloved.