Falling—Aeroméxico Flight 498

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Falling—Aeroméxico Flight 498

somewhere the vast beast-whistle of space
—James Dickey

Grad students will forever      be falling
in love      with their students,      the narrow gap

of years a gravity      too strong      to escape.

Her name was Becky      18      in the first composition class
I ever      taught.      She was then      and maybe

now an Ellen Pompeo—      that lanky      freckled
tooth-endearingly-ajar      beauty,      My Grey’s Anatomy

romance      that never happened.      But she
left me      with something stronger      than regret—

a story I saved      in hard copy      for years
now disappeared:      Sunday, August 31, 1986      she

is 12      playing with friends      in her suburban Cerritos

pool      Labor Day Weekend and      7th grade is about
to start.      Overhead      a shearing      boom

then      so utterly then      a McDonnell-Douglas DC-9

tailless and inverted      falls      out of the blue      above
Becky and her friends      Close enough      for them

to see a terrified      woman’s face      filling a window.
According to      the fatality list      she could be one

of two Maria’s      a Sandy, Carmen, Iris, Rosa, Linda, Dinorah,

Aurea, Wendy, Sharon,      Gloria, Elva, Teresa, Diana      or
Ann—      the face I never saw      that I never forgot.

Like Becky’s—      still young      and perfect      and stranded
with blonde hair      in some life      that went on.


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