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James Magorian

Aviator Approaching Mandatory Retirement

Vultures land more gracefully than I,
sit at sandy tables,
rise again with a dark scribble of wings,
simple iconography, higher, higher,
until color falls off.
I forget much of what you tell me.
Anniversaries, old gaskets.
I toe a drip-pan under the propeller hub.
Birthmark and half-built raft.
I scatter cotter-pins on the graves of my parents.
Knock, screech. Main bearings?
New mechanics. I quiz them: none know
the capitol of North Dakota.
I toe a drip-pan under the brake cylinder.
Your kisses are clumsy, barely applicable.
Squeaks, grinding. Bind of piston rings?
The burn (soldering iron) on the back
of my hand seeps.
The compass needle wanders from room to room,
bathes less often.
Still, I think of you
as I wait on the runway, engines warming,
windsock dangling like Groucho Marx’s cigar.
Sunrise. Broken melon,
sprawl of orange flesh. They pull the chocks.
I climb away from the continent.
Gray beach. Aquamarine shoals. Pitch-blue
curve of the Gulf Stream.
And the crone with the crystal ball
pins a mitten to the sleeve of my trance.

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