The man in the black Guns N’Roses shirt
and ball cap in the seat across the aisle
does not enjoy flying. He does not chat
with his partner seated near the window
or leaf through the inflight magazine. He
does not use the entertainment system.
He glances at his watch and breathes deeply.
He sits straight and stares ahead at nothing
in particular. When even that is
too much, he plays a game on his smartphone.
We’re ninety minutes into a two and
a half hour flight. He tucks his phone away
in the blue leather pocket of the seat
in front of him and stares ahead again.
I want to say, “You’re doing great.” I want
to say, “I know just how you feel.” I don’t.
I suspect the only thing that’s worse than
being a forty year old man afraid
of flying is to have a stranger call
attention to it. So he sits and he
stares straight ahead. I send him empathy
and encouragement like silent little
And I take out my pink moleskin and write
this poem for all the courageous ones
who are afraid to fly but fly anyway.