Airplane Mode

By Ryan Drendel

Mom made us chew sugar-free gum during takeoff to release the cabin pressure before it bubbled through our ears ignore the flight attendants’ safety procedures so we can say our prayers up here a perfect farm circle appears oval and all of Missouri is farmed into square-mile pixels and even the Flatirons have been flattened into reminders of my grandmother’s crow’s feet keep pushing their personal items into the backs of my heels kept clapping the first time I flew I flew into Las Vegas to help my mom help her mom get rid of her husband’s old gloves used to squeeze my five-year-old fingers and command that I shake the hand that shook the hand that shook the whole wide world and I remember giggling even though it hurt because I had not yet learned about the premature stress I placed when I tried to pronounce di-abetes my tongue would leap ahead of itself to keep pace with my thoughts and the speech therapists would call this lazy passenger refuses to cover his nose with his mask while the shadow of our contrail stretches into the meadows like another powerline I wonder whether we change time-zones in the air or after the voice on the PA tells us it’s okay to turn off airplane mode and often I forget I’m allowed to wear a watch on each wrist but I remember tapping my grandmother’s during our final descent into the overcast I asked her whether we were where Grandpa had gone and I remember she told me to close my eyes and keep chewing until the plane landed like a moth who was exhausted of flying into the moon.



Ryan Drendel is an MFA candidate at Northern Arizona University, where he edits Thin Air Magazine and co-hosts Cinder Skies: a High Desert Reading Series.


Art by Amanda Cortese.

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