A Boring Movie

Halfway through the night, he’s up for hours for months.

To sleep again, he’ll read, drink tea, perch on the heater.

Earlier, after dinner, we always sit close to watch a show.

Tonight I ask him for a word. Airplane, he mumbles.

This is my new favorite way to surf Netflix, I say.

I search “airplane” and find what you might expect.

Leslie Nielsen. Every kind of flight disaster film. Cartoons.

War planes. History documentaries. Survival stories.

Highjacking heroes. And this run-on-titled gem:

Relaxing White Noise: Airplane Sleep Sounds White Noise –

Jetliner Plane Flight for Sleeping, Relaxation, made,

obviously, for people who trust pilots, mechanics, engineers—

long-legged men who say yes to the emergency exit seat,

not their short-legged wives who read and re-read

the laminated wordless cartoon instruction sheet.

The soundtrack is romantically ideal: pure, airy engine sound

unpunctuated by coughs, crying babes or conversations

between loud flirtatious strangers sharing a row. Visually,

the film loops a CGI of a Relaxing Airways jumbo jet

soaring through a sky of endless wispy popcorn clouds.

Fluidly panning, we see the plane from above, the side,

float over the wing, linger on the tail logo, back off,

sink below the wing at a distance, look up at an angle,

follow from behind, pass a yellow sun, catch a glinting sea,

rise to birds’ eye once more, shift slowly down to the nose,

pan windows along the length to the tail, land again

on the logo of a sleeping woman’s head on a pillow.

And so on and so forth for an hour and fifty-nine minutes.

Fifty in, he wakes. What are we watching, he asks.

White noise, I say. Uh, he says, and sleeps. I type.

The plane flies in one direction. I am moving around it.

Or, I am still and the plane is turning slowly, showing off.

I look up from time to time, learn by heart the order of the loop.

He sleeps. Really this is not a bird’s but a god’s eye view.

When I am in the sky, I never imagine the possibility

someone, somewhere, could be watching the machine

from above, the vessel in which I am so small, a face

in a window, confined to unfeathered body and two eyes,

photographing clouds below. The wing is slightly in the way.

I crop the shots to hide my helpless state. Memorizing

light on cirrus, finally relaxing my grip on him, I do not sleep.

2020

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