Our Lady of the Skies
By Nina Puro
What if they hadn’t made a rotary & a chunk of a parking lot
out of the three chapels at Idlewild Airport, the reflecting pond?
What if the trees shrunk back to sprouts, & the gouges
in asphalt from snowplows filled themselves up, & I wasn’t
falling? Each city’s glimmer in the corner of an eye turns
out to be cellophane. Whole counties clouds of moths felled
like dimes as I pass through, their wings fixed in motion. Each state is
a diagram of paint peeling off a door. In the old chapel
at Idlewild Mary’s smiling atop a propeller, & I can walk
to anyone’s gate, & the airport’s name is the sound of a flower
& not a president’s initials. The tiles there are curved & fitted
to match the hairdos of the forgotten waving from the sides
of planes & what we thought the future would look like.
This city’s the abandoned observation deck of a building
dwarfed by taller buildings, sprouted around it. This building’s
double-decker elevators were stopped long ago, before we’d figured out
how to build pendulums inside skyscrapers to keep them from swaying
in the wind. This country’s the particular purple of trees
that cannot be painted. This afternoon’s the thing one knows will happen
starting to happen. Passenger pigeons used to fill the sky. Before that,
lobsters washed knee-deep on the beach, too many thirty-pound
cockroaches-of-the-sea for even the poor to eat. Today I can watch
a live newscam of any airport. The lighting’s invariably awful.
In the parking lot, I cross myself for the unholy ghosts we walk
through & are. Some know hard work makes wealth. Some know God
has ordained us as his earthly empire. Some know the South
will rise again. Some remember the three chapels. Nobody knows
how big lobsters can get or how long they can live.
We kill them all before that.
Nina Puro’s work is forthcoming or recently appeared in cream city review, Indiana Review, Harpur Palate, Jellyfish, Pleiades, Third Coast, and other publications. She lives in Brooklyn and is bad at thinking of clever third-person quips to put in places like this.
(Updated Feb. 2015)