Flying Companion

The man in 10B kneads his hands and closes
his eyes; his jaw line tenses as the plane
begins its des­per­ate taxi­ing to gain
what speed it can. 10A already dozes,
but takeoff’s test of buoy­ancy exposes
10B’s anx­i­ety. Arthri­tis pain
or cir­cu­la­tion defects might explain
the kneading—but more likely it dis­closes
invol­un­tary efforts to keep calm,
to rub out fear. I feel it from 10C:
although “hello” is nearly all we’ve said,
I sense the pres­ence of another palm
as sweaty as my own. We tac­itly
share per­fectly com­pan­ion­able dread.

Jean L. Kreiling’s poetry has appeared in sev­eral jour­nals, includ­ing Ekphra­sis, The Evans­ville Review, The Edge City Review, The For­mal­ist, The Lyric, Phoebe, and SLANT. Her work was awarded prizes in the 17th Inter­na­tional Poetry Com­pe­ti­tion (spon­sored by the World Order of Nar­ra­tive and For­mal­ist Poets, 2003), and was nom­i­nated for a Push­cart Prize in 2000.