The Innisfree Poetry Journal

by Anne Harding Woodworth

Fly-Over States


When you’re flying over everything in between,

you’re going 554 mph, which is too fast

to take in a race at the Speedway.

And that’s a ground speed of 572 mph,

too fast to take in the Michigan-Ohio State game.


You have a tailwind or a headwind

when you fly over, and you’re at 39,095 feet,

which is too high to see toxins in the Flint River.


The outside temperature is minus-62 degrees F.

But you just want to get to that coast

where it’s warm and the surf’s up

or where you can sit in front of a cozy fire

and be learnèd.


In the everything in between there are people.

Millions of them with coughs and blisters,

bellyaches and rust in the underpinnings.

Their kitchens need groceries, their houses need paint,

which is the least of what their spirits need.

They once felt connected to their neighbors,

to their bosses, to their unions, to the hearts

of men and women they sent to govern them.

That’s gone now. It’s as if they’ve been dropped

onto dry ice and all sensation has left them.


When a voice spoke of getting it all back,

they believed the voice.

They heard it in spite of its rasp

and its syllables mouthed out of both sides.

And when the voice said their roads would be fixed,

their bridges rebuilt, their fuel limitless,

and that would mean jobs,

they looked up into the sky and gave thanks.

They didn’t see what was flying over.

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