Boston to Japan // Rebecca Macijeski

A flight attendant wheels the breakfast cart down the aisle.
Beside me, a Japanese businessman reads the New York Times
in impenetrable silence. A boy drinks green tea with his mother,
old women use chopsticks to carry single grains of rice to their mouths.
I poke my fork through my scrambled eggs, turn the rusting apple slices over
in their rectangular tray. How can I eat with the ocean so far below?
The attendant wheels back with the trash cart, takes my breakfast away,
nestles it among the other discarded breakfasts. I wonder
where all those meals will go, all those rejections,
if they’ll be ejected from the plane when no one is looking.
I imagine them uniting as they fall
in a giant yellow mass, splashing in the ocean, an alien planet
descending, breaking apart, falling
into the mouths of curious fish.
I wonder how deep the breakfasts will go,
how many will settle onto an ocean floor
walked upon by the articulated legs of crustaceans,
how many will drift endlessly in the Pacific,
how many will surface in the wide stomachs of tuna harvested
to the market for sashimi, fed to short and wealthy men at the sushi bar,
men who remove their shoes, but not their faces, at the door.
Afterward, how many of the men will return to quiet families
carrying with them the incarnations of my breakfast?
How many will wash before sleeping
and feel a cold wind across their mirrors
thinking of the travelers above them
waking from their upholstery into this artificial morning?
Nothing is as neatly cared for as the dozens of packaged meals
in the cargo hold. Nothing is as foreign to me as this space after breakfast,
blue swallowing the plane on all sides,
the way we all wait here
silent and irrational as bees who’ve forgotten to hum.

Rebecca Macijeski received her MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts in 2011 and is currently studying toward a PhD in Poetry at University of Nebraska - Lincoln, where she teaches and serves as an Assistant Editor in Poetry for Hunger Mountain and Prairie Schooner. She is also an assistant to Ted Kooser's newspaper project, American Life in Poetry. Some of her recent work has been featured as part of the Tupelo Press 30/30 Project, and she is a recipient of a 2012 Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Prize. She has attended artist residencies with The Ragdale Foundation and Art Farm Nebraska. Poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Poet Lore, Painted Bride Quarterly, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, Whiskey Island, Lullwater Review, Fickle Muses, Phantom Drift, Border Crossing, Fourteen Hills, and others.