For John Berryman
You are not on this plane with me. I cannot lean
my head on the scratchy tweed of your shoulder,
breathe your smoke stained scent, your bourbon
lacquered breath. I cannot hold your hand, deep
with wrinkles and veins and turn your wedding
band around and around or trace the line of your
high cheekbone with my finger. I cannot stroke
your narrow sideburn, its smooth, dark hair
streaked with gray I have seen in the video
again and again or touch your narrow frame,
broad shoulders. The seat next to me is vacant,
just a black coat and a boarding pass. Maybe
you are the coat. Maybe your name is on the pass.
Should I put the seat back? Order you a bourbon,
no ice? Just come sit with me, United flight 481,
seat 8E. Right now the sky is changing hues
and I would gladly fall through its soft layers.
We could miss the frigid Mississippi and splay
hard on the embankment, the lenses of your
horned rims and the shattered crystal of
your Gruen watch preserving us in glass
for all eternity.