by Judith Montgomery

After the barely averted

disaster—the plane dropping

on stuck wings down

the thin cliff of cloud—

skewing to the airport’s

red homing eye before skid—

shudder—stop on concrete—

after this don’t we clutch

the rail, rush the stairs—

don’t we drop to our knees

& press shaking palms

to dirt—grass—asphalt—

& kiss the welcoming

ground that receives us?

Such grace—earth firm

beneath our trembling feet.

Who then thinks of the

other beneath?—how under

our fragile soles the earth

shifts—slips—how its great

plates of rock groan afloat

on a fiery melting—

wild scald & boil that here

& there, with or with-

out warning, churns up

& up, thrusting boulders

bigger than 737s aside

as it escapes to break

the very ground on which

we would walk—roiling

the air that just now failed

to hold us. Such gift—earth—

such glorious making, un-

making, remaking of what

we for a time are pleased

to call home. Such ash

& grandeur, such flux even

beneath our lips as they kiss

the ground, hearts shivering

with happiness

to know ourselves saved.

And the blessing—this—

that we rise, dust off our

knees & breathe & live

to praise the veined hands

of the pilot, the flashing

wings of the plane, our own

luck or fortune & (perhaps?)

whatever hand released

us back onto solid earth,

& lets us forget how every

thing moves & changes, now

as we speak, even under

our dumb & rescued feet.


Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 17, Issue 2.

Judith Montgomery is the author of Passion  (2000 Oregon Book Award), Red Jess, and Pulse & Constellation. Her poems appear in Ars Medica, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Hunger Mountain, and elsewhere,

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