• The Problem

    Ryan Wilson

    Summer 2018

    For M.

    Some bitch, some rattle ice in stormy cocktails, some read or stare into their hands’ artificial glow.
    The good-natured, whom no one likes, make conversation. Kids kick seat-backs; babies scream.
    This is the part where you find out exactly who you are, as much as you will ever know,
    Crammed like seeds into this invaluable lemon with all the dreamed escapes you cannot help but dream.

    There’s something wrong, some unspecified glitch, but nobody will say just what it is
    Keeping you stranded among strangers here on the hot tarmac, waiting,
    Waiting for some pronouncement, some true words that will explain your prolonged absences
    From the air above the clouds, from flight, from the oceanfront destination everyone’s anticipating.

    It will not last forever, your time on the ground. At some point there will come a departure.
    Then clouded skies will recede like sunshine, like questions, like your toddler’s sticky touch, and you will be
    Wholly invisible to the earthlings you love, who love you, an arrow shot by some blind archer
    Beyond the endless traffic and grocery-store pharmacy lines, long-distance calls and doctors wincing thoughtlessly.

    For now, take solace in the presence of the known world’s flawed, forgettable, flightless things;
    Bless the engine’s troubled heart, the brief and inexplicably beautiful problem with the wings.

    Ryan Wilson is the editor of Literary Matters and the author of The Stranger World (Measure Press, 2017), winner of the Donald Justice Poetry Prize. His work appears widely in periodicals such as Birmingham Poetry Review, First Things, Five Points, the Hopkins Review, the New Criterion, the Yale Review, and Best American Poetry. He teaches at the Catholic University of America.

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