“What Next, What Next?” by Christine Potter

Christine Potter


We are all the children of what
our former lives have been. Our
parents were powerful but they are
gone somewhere we cannot know.
Winter won’t stay winter for long
enough to get a good night’s sleep
before it ends up there, too. I don’t
mean spring. Maybe the hour after
a storm when the sky clears, when
the temperature plummets. When
even the jays at the feeder cry out
What next, what next? See their
police-blue tail feathers pointing
back to where they’ve been? Life’s
not what we expected—certainly
not fair—and much of it stops me
as I strain to understand it: pale,
floodlit national monuments, God-
knows-what echoing inside their
stone columns and domes, wind
swirling something fierce outside.
Planes aloft with emergency exits
blowing out for no reason except
someone having forgotten it could
really happen. The little patches of
shelter below, where we try to live.

from Poets Respond
January 14, 2024


Christine Potter: “The story about the plane with the emergency escape window that blew out stayed in the news a long time, probably because we have all flown on airplanes and worried about something like that happening—and also, of course, because the pilots of that flight landed it with nobody killed or badly injured. I hate flying worse than almost anything else, but I do it when I have to, so of course I read the news articles, horrified and fascinated. The whole thing also felt like a metaphor for something much bigger.” (web)

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