- Round Trip
1. Outbound Going back to Detroit, a place I've been running from since I learned to run. Ran from the black boys. Ran from the white boys. Ran to the chainlink end of the gravel playground. Ran from the palsied girl I wanted to run to (her constantly cycling head, her locked-in smile). Back to the city of rust, city of bone. Going to the last brother of my father, to his 19 pills and still the organs fail. City of carburetor, camshaft, hubcap, lug nut: Detroit, Detroit, where the weak are chewed and eaten, Detroit, I'm running straight for your mouth. 2. Descent Knifing through 22,000 feet, I can't be the only one who gets the urge, seated in the emergency EXIT row, to leap up REMOVE COVER AND PULL HANDLE —can I? Just put aside the Rold Gold™ fat-free pretzels [End Page 110] and step out, tetherless, into the icy patina of blue, temperature minus-48 Celsius, the drone of the engine taunting us, egging us on—Come, feel what it's like: that moment before the earth tightens its grip on your final descent, your seats upright, seat belts locked into place, luggage securely stowed in the overhead compartment, before you taxi the runway, terra firma again, some tan Dodge or gray Ford waiting for you in the auto rental lot. 3. Return From beyond the doorway of the delicatessen the redolence of the Roumanian pastrami bathing our olfactory bulbs and the certainty of half-dill pickles luxuriating in their barrel of brine impel us onward. Ah, kugel, knishes, the matzo-ball soup . . . if ethnicity in America's been reduced to food, thank God the chopped liver's still saturated with chicken fat, that gold the world dismisses as schmaltz— this thought, numinous, fleeting, occurs in a trice, conflated: the door has opened wide: a beaming mother, sated on latkes, her infant joey-ed upon her chest, [End Page 111] steps out, blinking into the warmth of the latest late spring sun, while the birthday boy, Uncle Ray, former tank commander under Patton, ninety-one today, leads us in, gripping the gleaming metal bar of his walker and inhaling the pastrami with each advance he makes.