Saturday, September 3, 2011

Word Flight

A half-baked poem is okay as long as it's in the oven.
 ~Author Unknown

The Chinese matron wedged into the middle seat uses most of the arm rest. Our forearm hairs co-mingle in tenuous D├ętente. She gawks at the poem I write. Our aircraft nudges forward awaiting the nod from the tower.

From the window seat her husband redirects her attention from my poem, but she is determined. I write smaller and smaller. Take-off turbulence makes my shrinking chicken scratch resemble Chinese. Even I can't understand it.

Might it have been Confucius who said
A bamboo brush is mightier than a poke in the eye with a pencil. 
From my carry-on bag I brandish my bamboo and horsehair brush with its accompanying archival inkwell. I set them on the tray table in front of me.

Deft strokes of my brush render symbols I imagine might counsel her against rudeness, but she nods and smiles, so I put away the calligraphy to resume my poem.

When we level at our cruising altitude, she locks eyes on the wavy wool of her husband's mid-section. He is already snoring like a shrimp trawler. His barn door frames a bovine bulge teetering on its threshold. She leans over to close it but thinks better of it. She imagines the zipper closing ranks on his tip skin. It's the prospect of his a capella cross-check and all-call blowing the doors off the aft cabin that dissuades her.

Somewhere over Council Bluffs she uses the margins of the in-flight magazine to crib my poem. I pause for her to catch up, then punctuate the closing line zinger. She punctuates the closing line zinger of her poem. I nod and smile.

We savor the in-flight beverages. I slip her a business card I had printed under a pseudonym with the optimistic title Self-Publisher.

I point out the web address of a poetry journal I have written for her on the back of the card -- the same journal that has rejected hundreds of my poems as "not suitable as this time".

She accepts my professional courtesy with a smile. I wish her godspeed submitting her work. We begin our descent into the Twin Cities metro area. We agree in measured English to have my people get in touch with her people. Or, vice-verse.