“Rowing Home,” watercolor on paper, by Winslow Homer, 1890.

Flying Changes

That time after the Golden Hour
when the sky glows one slow chalk streak,
the horizon like flesh
pressed to a lightbulb,

I said, come with me. And,
knowing the question before it came, answered:

But the time and the light
every contrail scratching the sky
burn a neon crosshatch of wanderlust, contained;
basketing us in, even in flight.

And I wondered about the point,
as a last-strung bead of sunlight
illumined something meant to stay unseen—
some celestial fretwork, some glancing plane
where gods pick wings like starflowers
wearing cheeks of moonlight, coy
and slow to ripen.

I looked up, blinked
and thought of you,
always so
scared of flying.
held you there, in the ember cups of closed eyelids.

You always were like staring at the sun.

When again I looked,
the light had slipped or
been swallowed
by ink-spills of bare black branches
all grasping upward.

First Timer

you said, wear sweatpants, I’ve got a surprise.
we drove, my car,
to some stretch of gravel—
an initiation rite
requiring twenty dollar bills,
starlight, and static codes
spilled up from the dash.

you held court in my passenger seat
saying, take the hit,
just so.
our faces, moon-eyed,
glowed spectral
in the light from the stereo.

the climb back into my skin was glacial
even as I moved fast,
the roads of the town
and my mind

I skirted couch cushions
disinterested in a bowl of swimming,
milk-drunk cereal
I didn’t remember pouring.
an inhalation,
trading one appetite
for another.

I wanted to feel that way always
and also never.

I remember my stepfather coming downstairs
finding me there,
glowing in the pre-dawn—
I was still humming blue.
each sensing guilt in the other,
at that hour,
neither of us spoke.

later still, the sun came up.


Allison Collins is managing editor of Tri-Town News, a newspaper out of Sidney, NY, and a longtime freelancer with The Daily Star of Oneonta, NY, The Chenango Star, The Scene, and Upstate Life Magazine. Her poetry and short fiction have been previously published in Blast Furnace, Havoc by Splickety, and Sharkreef.