Wanda Waldera © 2014 All Rights Reserved

Crash Landing in the Plaza of an Unknown City

What I didnít know was I was already here.
Weíve always been here like school children lined up for naps,
the snow drifting in silent and sideways through the windows.
If this is living, then whatís left of the plane reminds me
Iíve grown used to the brutality of beauty,
how the bones of an exquisite face make me feel abashed
and how the night snow filling the burned out fuselage makes sense.
Itís as if I still believe in God.
Flight is the process by which we move through air, and all day long
the sparrows think nothing of lift, of thrust. The plane strikes the runway,
pirouettes, and sinks its clipped wing into the mud.
A pageant of smoke blossoms toward the sun, and my mind is where I left itó
perhaps there, the last time my mother knelt down
to kiss me on the lips. She taught me how to ration joy.
Suitcases in my grasp, I walk down a jetway to board a plane.
A woodpecker bores a hollow into the house of my childhood.
From my seat I canít stop watching.


Dinner at Yamashiro, 2010

In late September
                          Santa Ana winds rip through the city,
                                                                              an invisible knife
                    cutting to unmask
                                                  an urban, iron-hued beauty.
For now summer churns
                                                        smog into air we can taste,
           a seared sky sinking
                                                                     down to the streets.
From a Japanese courtyard
                                            in the Hollywood Hills
                                                                                the cityís spell
            is more disappearing act than charm,       
                                                                        U.S. Bank Tower indiscernible,
other buildings scattered
                                        like confetti.
                                                            My mother and I eat together less,
brief encounters now to share
                                                a yearís worth of things

                                   I havenít done,                         how I donít dress like I should,

             how I canít find a job.
                                                           The sun sets its earth spinning machinery
so slow I tilt,
                                     the city still covered
                                                                    under a great cataract,

                lights dampened.

When dusk finally washes the sky                     a smoky blue-black
                                                                                              as if it were clean,
              she stands, impatient, to hug me goodbye.
                                                                                            Such a pity,
                          she says, You used to have so much potential.

Jia Oak Baker
Copyright © 2014  

Jia Oak Baker is a graduate of the Bennington Writing Seminars where she received the Liam Rector Scholarship. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Poet Lore, Soundings Review, Blue Earth Review, likewise folio, and elsewhere. Jia currently lives in Phoenix, Arizona, where she edits Four Chambers Press.

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