I worry about what will happen
to my body during the Rapture.
I’ve heard I’ll start rising into the sky until cirrus clouds block me from earth’s view. The rest of the details are unclear. Once I flew in an airplane and the clouds were a furrowed field of water clustered around dust. As if the giant from Jack and the Beanstalk seeded the clouds. I’d like to visit him, see his hearth, meet his wife and the golden goose. I imagine God like that, in the clouds with a harp. From there he could see me and keep a running tally of everything I’ve stolen. I worry about what will happen when my body leaves for the Rapture. What will happen to the groceries I’ve snuck onto the conveyer belt while ignoring the sign commanding 10 Items or Less. I never have less. How long will the chicken nuggets thaw while the dead sing Muzak? I worry about the highways, about the cars and their congestion. Imagine the drivers rising above their BMWs, minivans and SUVS, as though they are pulled up by an industrial magnet. Will the cars continue their forward momentum? I worry one will hit a moose. Did you know that the wobbly skin under a moose’s chin is called a dewlap? Did you know their tongues are purple? If I die and if I am allowed to return, let me return as a moose. I wouldn’t know that my tongue is purple or that there is a name for the skin under my chin. Instead, I would know what prey knows—willow’s astringency, brassica’s bitterness, how sweet and green the garden’s pea shoots.
Fairbanks: Early Winter Landscape
The Chena River runs east to west. It hasn’t frozen. Round ice plates float across the surface. If you stand on the bank near Alaska Land, you can hear them squeak and groan. The sun will not rise above the tree line today. Although it’s midmorning, everything is twilight. On both river sides, willow’s clothed in hoarfrost. Above the Chena, mist laces the air. A man walks over the bridge. Black parka, black snow pants, black boots. His gloved hand holds a cord tethered to a black milk crate that grates the sidewalk behind him. Here, the sun no longer rises in the east and sets in the west. Once, a meteor hit the earth and tilted the earth’s axis. Now the days are shorter and disoriented. Like the wood frogs that survive. They freeze and thaw fifteen times. Their bodies—now glucose. Sweetened alive.
FAI ➟ ANC 11/5/2020
At the airport everyone is masked except for the man leaning on his chair. It’s as though everyone but him has raised a flag, their respirations visible in the fluttering fabric. Their voices animate the cotton slips. The flight is early and the passengers are closer to their dreamlands than each other. Except for the man leaning, his bandana a folded triangle across his neck. Like the moon he’s reflected in the terminal’s windows. So clean, clear and straight. Barely distorted. Beyond the windows the morning is cold and almost clear. Microscopic crystals suspended in the atmosphere. Their dendrites disrupt the moonlight. Displaced, the light forms a pale corona around the moon, too dim for the window to echo. Inside the terminal, travelers stand. Carefully, their toes cover the Xs taped to the floor. They stretch from the gate down the length of the terminal, their bodies and baggage form a miniature archipelago. The unmasked man now leans against the customer service kiosk. He raises and lowers his flattened palm against the formica. A leaky croissant inked his hand with butter. He prints his lifeline, heartline, head, and fate lines onto the counter until they crosshatch the surface. The false horizon appears. Fata Morgana and her refracted beams of light.
Annie says, I’ve always wanted to perform a glissando on the trombone.
In our dream band, on bass trombone:
Annie Wenstrup is a Dena’ina poet living in Fairbanks, Alaska. A Stonecoast MFA graduate, she is also a Smithsonian Arctic Studies Fellow, an Indigenous Nations Poetry Fellow, and a Storyknife Fireweed Fellow. Her work can be found in Entropy, Poetry Northwest, The Ilanot Review, After and elsewhere.