White Scraps Like Beacons

Even as we boarded the plane that night, humid summer air condensed in the seams of the aircraft’s wings, collected, and dripped onto the tarmac: a scorched field of parallel lines afloat on the surrounding marshland. Yes, there are clouds in my memory of that disappearing sky, though I remember holding his hand and leaning into his shoulder as the plane accelerated down the runway, tires spinning at last across the level earth, lurching into that curved space between longitudes—where bodies at first do not sleep but turn and rock and slouch across the aisle, heads bent together or apart—and of all the voices droning on across the ocean his grew the most low and cruel. Yes, there are clouds in my memory of that, too: a blanket, a swirling indigo scarf, somewhere a typhoon, though if someone had leaned over the seatback and whispered the question like an aunt in my ear I’d have admitted to nothing but being an odd pair.