Falling—Aeroméxico Flight 498
somewhere the vast beast-whistle of space
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.