[the Writing of Kuypers][JanetKuypers.com][Bio][Poems][Prose]


in the air

Part One

Over Las Vegas with my family, my sister and myself in one row, my parents in the other across the way. We’re nearing the end of our flight; mother tells me to sit in her seat and look out the window as we fly over the Hoover dam. Sitting next to father, I watch him lean out the window saying, just think of all that concrete. I look over his shoulder, the dam no larger than a thumbnail, the water, like cracks in a sidewalk, like the wrinkles in the palm of my hand.
Over Phoenix, preparing for another descent at 8:50 p.m., but it’s usually fifteen minutes late, as it is now, I’m getting used to the schedule now. The mountains look like the little mountains you see on topographically correct globes, little ridges, as if they’re made of sand, if you just lean your head down a little bit, your exhaling can make them all blow away in the breeze. And I know that what I’m looking for is out there, somewhere, I think this is where it is, I better not be wrong, I just have to search a little harder and find it. I love the city lights from above at night. Have you ever thought of how much power it takes to light all those buildings? All that energy. And every time I look, look out that little window with rounded corners, i see strings of yellow Italian Christmas lights strung across the ground.
And little Champaign, Illinois, and those little airplanes that 25 people fit in. The airport there is really nice, actually, it’s made for a bigger city, a city of dreams and tall buildings, that’s what I think. The roar of the planes are so loud, though, not like those 747’s where you can sleep during the flight. But they fly low enough so that I can see the building I live in from the sky. And where I work. There’s the store. Neil Street. Assembly Hall. The bars.
Over Fort Myers, the city always looks different from any other place, all those palm trees, the marshes. Like you’ve just landed somewhere foreign, and pretty soon the big tour will begin. You can feel the heat, the humidity sticking your shirt to your back between your shoulder blades, and your neck, sticking to your neck too, from inside your cabin, before you even land.
Chicago looks grand from the sky with this huge expanse of lake next to it, like civilization crept up as far as it could but finally had to stop. The power of nature stopping the power of man kind, for once. And I cannot decide which one looks more evil. The lake does, looks evil i mean, at least at night, at night it looks like two spheres: a string of lights and a huge void. Daylight, and the snow on the ground looks dirty, too many cars have splashed mud on it as they drove by. And the sky always matches the shade of grey of the snow: fitting for the city of the Blues. Maybe the snow is already that color, that perfect shade of grey, when it falls from the sky in this city.

Part Two

Have you ever noticed that the air isn’t normal air in an airplane? I mean, I know they have to pump in the air, and pressurize it and all in order to keep us alive up there, but there’s just something about the air in the cabin that’s different. It’s got a smell to it, that’s the only way I can describe it. A smell of all these people, going places, running to something, or running away from it.
When I go on vacation and I promise people I’ll write, I usually write from the plane, just so I don’t have to worry about it for the rest of my trip. And I write their letter on an airsick bag. It’s more interesting than paper.
I like the window seat, I like to look out the window. Clouds look like cotton balls when you’re above them, and when you’re landing cars look like little ants, on a mission, bringing food back to their hill. Little soldiers, back and forth, back and forth. And the streets look like veins, capillaries in some massive, monstrous body. And the farmland looks like little squares of colors. I wonder why each plot of land is a different color, what’s growing there that makes them different. Or maybe it’s that some of them are turning shades of red and brown because some of them are dying.
Once I was bumped from my flight, but on the next available flight they gave me first class. And I sat there, feeling underdressed. And afraid to order a drink.
And it always seems that you’re stuck sitting next to someone that is either too wide for their seat, or is a businessman with his newspaper stretched out and his lap top computer on his little fold out table. Once, when I was on a flight back from D. C., a flight attendant walked by, stack of magazines in her hand, Time, Newsweek, Businessweek, and I stopped her, asking what magazines she had. And she replied, “Oh, these magazines are for men.” This is a true story. And I asked her again what she had. I had already read Time, so I took Newsweek.

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Chicago poet Janet Kuypers
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