She cupped her hands under one side of her face and fell asleep.
I tried to keep fully awake but soon images came with an invitation to rest in this half dream-state. My mother caressed me in the half-dream, she pulled me into her and protected me. I surrendered, partaking of her love and then in the mental movements that were darkness and fragment I was making love to myself, seeing and touching myself from the dreamer's place of seeing, my body had doubled and contained the shift, the ending of which drew out an orgasm like blood.
By seven p.m. New York time, the plane landed for its hour of refueling inside the gusty night of a mountain range, but its passenger cabin and its fill of sleeping travelers were quiet as a bevy of bones. The lights in the cabin were off, and all I could see outside my window was the gleam of Swiss airline fuel tanks and scaffolds.
My mother's eyes did not open and the plane ascended into the black air again.
I watched the swelling morning clouds over the continent, a dawn was coming carrying a light storm, heaving winds.We would be in Israel soon, I told myself, and there would be time for escape and remedy.
A few hours later, the airplane was jolted by turbulence in the air.
My mother sat up, startled. "Oh . . . what? What?" she said, blinking. She kicked at her red-tanned purse that had toppled out of the seat's pocket with the magazines and tissues she had tucked inside it.
"Nothing, Mom," I said, "you're all right. It's nothing at all."
She stared at me. And then she fell back into her sleep.
I sat, wide awake for a while longer, watching the airplane's escape hatch where other warning signs were pasted in white-and-black letters, instructions on how to bolt out in time and land on an inflatable float boat in the ocean, in case of sudden descent, or irreversible mechanical failure.
I stared out the plane window and into the great black hole in the galaxy where my father had fallen. The possibility of escape through death lived inside me as some odd and exciting adventure.
I listened to my mother's heavy breathing blend with the noise of the airplane's motor under my feet and I promised to the spaces unknown into which we were traveling, from one world to another, soon I would make a new life.
From Edges by Leora Skolkin-Smith. Copyright Leora Skolkin-Smith 2005. All rights reserved. Reproduced by permission of the author.
Blood at the Root
"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
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