Matthew Deshe Cashion

The Weight of Guilt

The flight attendant spots me before
she begins her safety sermon. She knows

I pose the greatest risk. I wear my karma
like a crown of lightning bolts. Sunglasses

Stuck to head, lowered baseball cap intact,
I'm trying to get to a city I can show my face to

Without shame. But it looks as if my sins
have stuck. It looks as if my sins are stinking.

I beg the pardon of the woman beside me,
who, by way of answering, turns her head away.

Through my window I watch the luggage-lifter
on the ground heave my bag from cart to belt,

then sigh. It’s clear I’ve caused him pain. The flight
attendant has fire in her voice. Her inflection

mimics a primitive revivalist preacher who hangs
his a’s on the ends of words. She’s feeling,

without fail, that the sky will fall this time. She
seems sure that every passing minute is a miracle.

She finishes in tongues. When the wheels start rolling,
the pilot apologizes in advance for what he knows

will be a rocky flight. “We’re taking on some extra
weight today,” he says. A businessman across the aisle

says, “going to hell in a bucket, babe.” The flight
attendant crosses herself. The luggage-lifter gives

the thumbs up sign. The woman beside me pets a picture
of her children. We build our ground-swell speed, heads

stuck to seats, hearts descending. I pray for the forgiveness
of those unlucky souls who will have to count my cavities.