Flight 2331
Adam Falkner

It has been eight days since your best friend fell 17 stories,
landed head-first on the pavement in the middle of 37th street.

You are two-and-a-half gin and tonics into a flight
from New York to Seattle, 300 miles above sea level,

preparing to re-read a handwritten letter he sent you
several weeks earlier. There is an open drink order stuck to

the plastic console above your seat with the last four digits
of your credit card written in large, blue ink as if to say:

Keep an eye on this one. Something is not quite right here.
You knew there would never be a right time for any of this.

But here, in seat 17C, beside an ornery toddler
whose priorities couldn’t be any further from your own,

you wish you’d kept the letter in your pocket, let it burn
a hole in your jeans for one more day. Now was not the time.

The harder the child screams, the quieter the space
in your head becomes. Gone is the $800 rent check sitting

on your kitchen table like a ticking time bomb, the laundry list
of unanswered emails in your inbox, the collection

of friends to whom you haven’t broke the news.
Gone is even the slightest point of reference for why

you are on an airplane, where you are going,
who cares about you there. Were the plane’s engine to

suddenly cough itself into lake Michigan, you’d be more
at peace with the logic of the world than you are at this moment.

You whisper this to yourself. Too loud. Think how
non-triumphant falling to one’s death sounds anyway.

The hand you are not using to nurse gin into your bloodstream
is clenched into a weapon, lightly pounding the rubber armrest.

You haven’t the faintest clue what else to do with it.
Tears pour down your cheeks, collect in splashy globs

on your tray table – you’re not even bothering to wipe them.
You cannot stop. You know this is just the tidewater. You know

this is just the beginning. You couldn’t be any further.

Adam Falkner is a poet, performer, high school English teacher and educational consultant. His work has been published in decomP, The Other Journal and The Literary Bohemian, among others. He has also been featured on HBO, BET, Michigan and New York Public Radio and in Time Out New York. He lives and works in Brooklyn. Find more about Adam here.