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By George Bilgere

The family—the father and mother and two (cute) kids—
got into their private plane at the airport near the lake
and lifted off into the snowy night, into the weather,
and now here’s this picture of the four of them
at Disneyland, and the picture is on the front page
of today’s newspaper which is on our dining room table
where the four of us—father, mother, two (cute) kids—
are having pancakes on a late Sunday morning,
the snow falling outside, burying the deck chairs.
And I think of how it must have felt as the lake
came swimming up ravenously from the night
to devour them, the pale blue instruments
in the cockpit whirling, bleating in terror,
the father and mother working very hard
in the last clarifying seconds to formulate a phrase,
an utterance of sufficient magnitude,
a shouted finale involving love, that beautiful
old word that had rescued them so many times
before, and then the impossible shock,
the cold and darkness, and now their photograph
with the smiling mouse on our dining room table
which my grandparents bought when they married,
my wife and I at the controls, steering this
sturdy, well-built wooden craft through the snow,
the blinding snow that pushes at the windows,
while the kids dribble their syrup on the front page
and my wife is trying to be stern with them
but she can’t stop laughing.

George Bilgere’s eighth collection of poetry is Central Air (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2022). He has received grants and awards from the NEA, the Pushcart Foundation, the May Swenson Poetry Award, the Witter Bynner Foundation, and the Society of Midland Authors Poetry Prize. He teaches at John Carroll University in Cleveland, where he lives with his wife and two exceptionally fine little boys.

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