When I was eighteen and thought the world was infinite
I boarded a flight to Mexico.
As the plane rose and swayed towards the western coast
I looked out over the vast glittering darkness
and imagined deserts, valleys. I wondered what would happen
were the plane to crash – if we would land in a mountain range
with a name I could neither pronounce nor remember,
if we would wander the wilderness for days, weeks, months,
even. It was a long flight. I slept, awoke
to hold my stomach, slept again. I thought at the time
that there was nothing to be more afraid of
than that lightless expanse of land.
I know now that I was wrong. That there is much more to fear
in smaller spaces. That the sour taste of terror pairs well
with the silence of an exam room. I learned that bus rides are
dangerous, and so are dance floors, and so, in a different way,
is the narrow distance between two given people.
Once we begin traveling we cannot stop, and that’s the worst
confinement, the relentless push forward, past people whose faces blur
first in memories, then, later, in dreams.
We dip low over the curves of the earth,
cradled warmly in our cars, our apartments,
our machines, and we forget the wonder and near relief
of not knowing. The world is not infinite, not anymore,
but at least it is big enough.