by Jay Sizemore
There’s a future that exists without me in it,
where my father didn’t get sick a day before the flight,
where I was irritable with my children
for arguing in the car, with my son
for forgetting to pack his reading glasses,
with my wife for turning her lips into a bookmark
between the pages of a novel I’d never read,
with myself for being too afraid to open that book,
and instead ripping sheets from my own binding.
There’s a future where I hand the teller our tickets,
and when they’re scanned, information crosses continents
at the speed of light, validating the zeroes and ones
of design, the predestined departure and arrival
encoded into the magnetic stripe like an inscription
on the slip of a fortune cookie we’re saving for later,
because everyone knows fortune cookies are bullshit,
but there’s hope in that sugary shell,
a shell that’s so easily broken, just like a body
smashed against the rocks with no one to read its secrets.
I can see that future when I look in my father’s eyes,
and I wonder why our timeline split like a cell
stuck to a mother’s uterine wall, while so many others
sloughed out into the void, oxygen masks deployed,
where storms darken blues to the deepest of blacks
not even the deep sea trenches could hold.
I think of another future, where the wind was blowing
just hard enough to bring the clouds in,
a future where deities were with the weathermen
and that plane was delayed, saving every life,
not just mine, not just my wife’s, not just my kids’,
all 162 souls still holding their fortunes inside.
I think of that future and I thank God,
I thank God I’m still here
opening books I never intended to read,
flipping to their last pages first.