Mid-way through the Delta flight to Minneapolis, the person in the row in front of me is watching the news. The seat-back screen scrolls: NORTH KOREA, TRUMP, NUKES. These words wrap around, repeating themselves. NORTH KOREA, TRUMP, NUKES. I close my eyes, imagine what a nuclear attack might mean.
I imagine receiving an emergency text message. I imagine it informs me that a nuclear missile is headed to America, headed wherever I am, headed to Georgia. During my morning yoga class, say.
I imagine the sky clouding over, turning Mars red. I imagine the sky falling, imploding before exploding. Dusty and charcoal and blooded atmosphere. I imagine the people in the room with me—yogis stretching and deep breathing. I imagine knowing with certainty that our breaths are numbered. I imagine looking around and seeing the person closest to me. I imagine seeing the person like I’ve never seen someone before, without story, seeing both of our futures fall away, disappear. I imagine seeing this person without their future because the sky is falling, and falling fast. I imagine myself and this other person getting swept up in rip tide, pulling everything into itself. I imagine understanding that this is because both quantum physics and because of a deep rooted and organic human response to screeching sky-splitter coming closer and closer.
I imagine myself face to face with this stranger, missile deafeningly close. I imagine us leaning toward one another, like falling towers, atomic lips, a kiss.
I imagine thinking that this isn’t how I wanted to go out but sharing this space with this stranger is somehow enough and I think with certainty that for the first time in my life and maybe for the first time in history enough was now actually enough. Because there is no future space in which more desire could live. I imagine myself knowing in those last three seconds that my feeling of genuine existential satisfaction is entirely because my puny though precious life is being taken, soon to be obliterated in a radioactive cloud.
On an airplane seven miles above the Earth’s surface, in seat 38A, because of the flashes of my neighbor’s television screen, I think about strangers kissing as bombs fall all around them. I think about the similarity of my waking dream and reality. I think about a poem by Yeats with the lines “things fall apart/ the centre cannot hold.” I swivel my neck right and left at all the passengers, sleeping or screening. Holding the baby, I think that kissing is such a powerful sign of love because it pulls two people together, especially now during the swirling vortex of black hole pulling everything inside it. I kiss kiss kiss kiss kiss her soft baby cheeks, then eyes, nose and mouth. Eyes locked on the stop motion of colors, her hands reach for the seat back screen in front of us. I keep kissing.
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