The softness inside the metal shell
smoothed dull by landscape streaming past

is a human family
coming home from northern holiday
            — the children swam

down to the cellar of the pond—
using the moss-furred rope of the raft
            to pull themselves deeper
until chill green water
            brushed their bellies, thrilling them.

they slump in the backseat near sleep
burned brown by the sun
loose-limbed as dogs
so they do not know what it is

that will shriek and fling their
bones like strips of weed in a thundering sea.

It will happen soon, in the moment when
they enter the blind-spot of the dark sedan
where the driver is considering
changing lanes even now. Quarter-panels

will kiss the steering wheel will over-correct the wheels
beneath will slide like butter in the pan. The air
will slow for the man and woman in the front seat.
They will exchange a glance

that lasts much longer than the moment meant to hold it—
it will seem they have time to contemplate
terror until concrete
arrives to hurtle time
forward on its loosened track—

but for now the man has one
hand on the wheel. The other
lolls on the seatback, flipping his wife’s ponytail.
They are singing to the song on the radio. They both
smiled when it first came on, they were so delighted.

Nothing more fleeting than a cloud. Yet now
it’s been overcast for days. April snow,
with thunder up above. There is an urge
to eat roasted meat and drink quietly
in the afternoons. Because human beings
are terrestrial most of their possessions
remain on earth. But we nonetheless name
what strikes in places beyond us. For instance
there is a name for the crackling air
within and around the charged vein that threads
the clouds so suddenly together—it’s called
a lightning channel and was mere sky a moment
prior. Heat and light bolt through the rain
to settle fresh imbalance. From a distance, silver
staples. Or fine and hairy roots rivering
the dark. Or the dark skin of the storm split
open. Inside the clouds in a metal plane
passengers feel it in their chambered lungs.

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