“Ohio” by Charles Rafferty

Charles Rafferty


The state quarter celebrates our love
of sky, minting the Kitty Hawk and the man
on the moon together: the first step
and the first flight growing improbably
from that same Ohioan soil. If I had
my own quarter, I’d stamp it with a girl
who sung me to glass that glittered to bits
and the wife who glued me back.
Or with the skyline of Derby
and a wasp-filled cupola at Fairfield Hills.
Or with the Beatles and the darkened dial
of my car radio. Or with a Gemini capsule
and a jetliner slamming itself to marigolds.
It’s possible to love the ground too much.
Before I’d ever flown I had a fear of flying,
which is really a fear of falling, which is also
a fear of pain—and how can a life be lived
except by accepting pain? So once
when I was twenty, I stepped off a Cessna
at three thousand feet above a field
of daisies and goldenrod. I remember letting go,
then nothing. Then a stillness, a floating,
the motor of the plane receding like a bug.
I hung there clutching a dandelion plume—
my legs in a dangle above the field
that kept on rising to where I was.

from Rattle #31, Summer 2009

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