Two Poems

Flying Above Wisconsin

Right now, up here
in the thin, dawn air,
the eye a small porthole,
the east barely a pink city,
the September landscape is snow.
Fog rolls through valleys,
trails across lakes, looks like
spun sugar at a fool’s carnival,
a closeted damsel’s veil,
gauze my mother wrapped
around wounds.

Invisible Cities

—after Italo Calvino

We’re driving
through a part of the state
we don’t know
and I ask him
if he ever thinks about moving,
buying a new house,
filling it with new furniture,
becoming someone else.
And I’m surprised
when he answers yes.
I had assumed
this had been my longing.
I had been the one who wandered,
could fold belongings into one bag.
Now I panic in strange places,
dream only of the spaces
other people travel through,
speaking in tongues,
speaking in whispers.
I tell myself danger lurks in the least
of the world’s corners, dare myself
to pack a pair of extra socks,
underwear, a toothbrush, a book, then spit.

—Ronnie Hess, Madison, WI