Child on a plane

Child on a plane: is this when we grow smaller? Man: in how many ways must I grow bigger? Woman: there’s an oak box, Cromwell’s head inside. Child: where do the people in the radio sleep at night? Man: because there are certain parts of my body that will grow no larger. Woman: interred, secret location, nineteen sixty, authenticity unconfirmed. Child: are we there yet? Man: where? Woman: the head at breakfast amid some white rolls and butter so that Maria Edgeworth, eighteen twenty-two, would note: his head—not his picture—nothing of stone or marble or plaster of Paris, but his real head. Child: why is the sky blue? Man: because it is an emptiness with a line through it. Woman: all things fall, all men fall some, as in some remarkable effects of a storm of great thunder and lightning, sixteen eighty-five, one being the pole splintered and brought to earth. Woman: the head tucked in the red coat of a guard, body’s whereabouts unknown. Woman: once separated from the body by eight blows, the head impaled, risen on a spike over the London skyline. Woman: the whole corpse disinterred, death again and again and again through the streets, hanged at Tyburn, thirty January, sixteen sixty-one. Woman: when a body is more than a body it is hidden in the wall of the middle aisle of the Henry VII Lady Chapel. Child: are we there yet? Man: zzzzz. Woman: a funeral procession in imperial purple, and yes my love, we are here. Woman: sixteen fifty-eight, septicaemia. Child: what does it mean to die? Woman: there’s a man who made himself king.

Nils Michals is the author of Come Down to Earth, which won the May Sarton New Hampshire prize (Bauhan Publishing, 2014). His first collection, Lure, won the Lena-Miles Wever Todd award and was published by Pleiades and LSU Press in 2004. Individual poems have recently been published in Bombay Gin, Theodate, and The Conium Review. He currently lives in Boulder and is a lecturer at the University of Colorado–Boulder. www.nilsmichals.com