If This is Your Final Destination

They say you are made of clouds, they say you
are made of feathers, they say you are everywhere
or nowhere—we know you are both. Our flight
is delayed, this airport another nowhere. If this
is your final destination, the air murmurs, if
a stranger or anyone you do not know well offers you
anything ... but how well & what's he offering &
is this our final destination? At the hotel a man
hands us the key to room three one three—home
for a week or so. On the lobby tv a woman once
apparently enormous holds her old jeans up to her
body & smiles. Neil Diamond sings & when I go in-
to the bathroom he follows. Everybody has one.
Paradise is cloudless, they say, impossible to know.
Yesterday a man was sucked into the earth as he
slept—a sinkhole opened below his bed—not even
his brother could save him. In the hotel restaurant
my daughter orders corn flakes, they come with a
pitcher of milk, she pours nearly all of it into her bowl,
until I stop her she will keep on pouring. Three more
tvs are screwed into the wall above us—a car goes
round & round, a pitcher throws a baseball, a woman
slams her racket to the clay. My daughter pushes her
bowl away, picks two packets of jelly from the basket,
pulls the plastic off one, then the other, lifts each to
her tongue—red, then purple. The wallpaper is
the texture of trees, a landscape seen from above,
a contour map of an unnamed mountain, people
wandering the face of it. If we were closer we could tell
river from leaf, mountain from shadow, a fire making,
unmaking itself. What is this strand of DNA between
us, unconnected to & of the shadows parading past, our
outlines already chalked into the earth? I live
on air & light, I drag my daughter everywhere,
this morning she muttered Federer Federer Federer
like a spell & it was as if he stood before us again, his
perfect red jersey. How many mornings, the sun not yet
up, did I swivel on the red stool at the supermarket
lunch counter, my mother in back extruding donuts,
the aisles dark & empty behind us—she'd bundled me
into the car still sleeping to get there. I'd twirl or
wander or make toast, contemplating the basket
of butter & jelly, each in its little wasteful tub,
impervious to air or time or decay. Angel of Grape,
your purple body not only filled those coffins
but took the shape of those coffins—emptiness made
whole, color now a shape. Angel, my daughter now
wants only you, she asks for the whole basket, she
pulls back each sheet, puts her tongue in—
strawberry is her favorite, because it tastes
like strawberry.

by Nick Flynn

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