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The sky is the bright orange

of midnight, and it hangs like

salted dew on my tongue.

I inhale the filthy perfume with

a gasp in, a rattle out,

and Mom says not to huff

the ozone but it fills me with greedy

thoughts of soft seats and tiny pretzels,

international scents circulating through stale air.

I linger by the streaked windows

that show the planes falling out of the orange

to skid across a wet runway that’s fragrant

of fuel, charred rubber and cloud vapor.

And against the weathered glass that’s

cold to my nose and fingertips,

I dream of being a flight attendant

who starts the morning in a nameless terminal

and ends the night somewhere far away

from rusted water pipes and broken apartment stairs.

I will fly today and watch the cities spin below,

and I will fly when we return

from dusty Montana where Papa lives,

with musty horses and fields

of hazy yellow wildflowers,

back to LA and its orange midnight,

stopping at airy Denver this time

and dingy Salt Lake the next.


The doors to the plane open for me,

and while Mom wrinkles her nose and

complains about the dirty air,

I inhale through the plane doors

that seep of the star-stained stratosphere

a gasp in, a rattle out,

and I am home.


Devyn Hamberlin is an undergraduate student at UC Riverside.

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