The ground is angled, darkened / by fireball.
The plane has expanded.
Like glass dropped from a height
A scalene triangle sits atop a stretch
of black-scarred earth. The remains:
tip of tail. Hint of fuselage.
Like grains of rice, fragments litter
the burnt terrain. Fused metal, alloy parts.
The ground is angled, darkened
by fireball. The impact path reaches
out of the frame entirely. A pyre—
long as a comet’s tail.
My eye is drawn from the empennage
to three huddled figures standing
outside the burn’s wide berth
as if standing alongside a horse track.
The men appear frozen in miniature,
stunned at the magnitude: how 132 feet
of wings can leave an impact as long
as a desert mirage on a West Texas horizon.
They won’t be able to account for it all.
The smallest remnants are wedged
into vein-thin crevices, lodged
into lodgepole, bentgrass, and bulrush:
✽ ✽ ✽
Laura Joyce-Hubbard’s nonfiction and poetry appear or are forthcoming in The Iowa Review, Poetry, The Sewanee Review, Ninth Letter, Pleiades, Creative Nonfiction, Boulevard, River Teeth, Tupelo Quarterly, the anthology, Wanting: Women Writing About Desire (Catapult, 2023), and elsewhere. Recent awards include winner of The Iowa Review’s 2022 Jeff Sharlet Memorial Award for Veterans, winner of the 2021 Ned Stuckey-French Nonfiction Contest at Southeast Review, runner-up of the 2021 Poetry Contest at The Sewanee Review, and winner of the 2020 Essay Prize in the William Faulkner Pirates' Alley Writing Competition. Her nonfiction was selected as a “Notable” in the Best American Essays 2022. She is a veteran of the US Air Force where she flew C-130s. Laura is a fiction editor for TriQuarterly.