Ghost Plane by Clare Welsh

waiting watching wishing by Joel Robison
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Ghost Plane

“The failure so far to locate any trace of the aircraft raised questions about whether the ships, planes and helicopters searching the waters south of Vietnam, some of them using highly sophisticated equipment, were looking in the right place.”
                                                    –The New York Times, 3/10/14

The Americans photograph her grief and print it
the next day, in color, like a movie poster.
She wishes she looked
more cinematic crumpled in the plastic chair,
hands held up on either side of her face
like blinders. In 1959 she saw a horse
canter down a street, a rag & bone
runaway
running away
in 4 lanes of traffic,
throat one long ripple
as he charged a motorcycle
head on. Everyone turned
at his scream, then looked away,
unable to meet his eyes.

“The Chinese News Media have reported that there have been some instances of people calling cell phones of passengers of the missing flight and hearing ring tones, sometimes days after the plane disappeared.”
                                                    –The New York Times, 3/17/14

She wishes she hadn’t lived
through the famine.
Then she could join
the other families
in fasting. Children
won’t answer phones,
so mothers throw rice out the window:
“We’re not eating until the government
brings back our loved ones!”

In 1959, the government brought
no rice to peasants. So she ran
to the city, to 4 lanes of traffic
with a hot knife,
she cut a leg
from a horse
to feed her sons.
By the time
she got to it,
someone had
already taken the flanks
and hindquarters.
People pulled
scarves over their noses
to keep out the smell.
No one fought.
Fighting was a waste
of energy, then,
when people didn’t die
so much as vanish.
Her husband went for a walk
and never came back.
Her chickens disappeared,
left cirrus feathers
that caught the sun
in white flashes
drifting in the dirt.

“If the flight did land safely with the passengers and flight crew still healthy, whoever was in charge of the aircraft would also face a formidable task in any attempt to provide food, water and shelter for more than 200 people.”
                                                    –The New York Times, 3/17/14

She doesn’t want them to find it.
Finding means dying, and more
photographers. A public death.
How different than the old times,
when people died namelessly,
like the shadows of trees fading
into night, that place
where husbands, chickens
and children go to be
invisible, and her
not there
but here, peering
into thin air—

 


Clare Welsh

Clare Welsh is a writer and illustrator based in New Orleans, where she lives with the unabashed enthusiasm of a collie. She loves the smell of comic books, motorcycles, and Caribbean rum. Her work has appeared in Black & Gray Magazine, The Susquehanna Review, Quaint Magazine, The Chariton Review, and The Axe Factory (forthcoming). Check out her website, clarewelsh.format.com , for a good time.