Wednesday, March 18, 2015

In flight.

This morning--early, early--I boarded a plane to Tampa. Let me begin again. This morning--so very early--I boarded a plane to Atlanta, and then I boarded a plane to Tampa. Tampa is the city where the conference I'm attending, at which I'll be presenting, is being held.

To fly across America, the people, is a long day. It is a long, crowded day, sitting with strangers in large, anonymous waiting rooms where they nonetheless, in the end, know your name. It is sitting within jostling distance of people who will, at one time or another, be snoring loudly enough that you can hear it over the roar of the engines and the sound of music in your ears. Within elbowing room.

Today, I read (/skimmed--both) a whole book. A skinny book, but still. I did the New York Times crossword puzzle. I read Esquire magazine, the one with Will Smith on the cover. (It is my preferred in-flight magazine.) I listened to Eddie Vedder.

I ate half a vegetarian burrito in Atlanta that seemed to want to quarrel with me, just a little, on the flight to Tampa. But on that flight, I also had the space to engage in a renegotiation with my new manuscript. I think I might be retitling it. I have reordered it and I know its focus. I have six or seven targeted revisions that I know I must make, and a new poem that I need to write.

And then, I slept.

In Tampa, a city I've never been, there's water. There are islands. There are birds. My taxi driver, a Greek, told me about a little marshy spot in a cloverleaf interchange of the freeway.


at the Tampa Airport.
"That's a hawk," he said, as we ascended a curvy part of the interchange. I was craning my neck, too, to see if the bird, which seemed hawklike to me, was in fact of the hawk persuasion.

"Those other birds"--littler black birds--"seem to want him out of there," I said, conversationally.

"No, no no," he said, laughing in a patient and slightly paternal way. "No, there's twelve feet of water there." This being, evidently, explanatory about the hawk and the birds. "That's ocean water. There's fish in there."

"Ah," I said. "So the hawk--"

"Not just the hawk," he corrected.

"All of them?"

"Yes, all of them."

"--are after the fish," I finished.

"Yes. Sometimes I fish there, with a net. But not lately. I need a friend, I cannot do it alone."

"What kind of fish?"

"Every kind! Mostly snook"--(snook?)--"and mullet. One time my friend and I catch eight hundred and fifty pounds."

At that point, I was along for the ride on this fishing story. "What'd you do with it?"

"We each keep fifteen pounds, then we sell the rest."

*

From my hotel room, it looks like this:

from my hotel window.

I'm ten stories up. My daughter thinks I should walk down by the sea. Is it a sea? This is ocean water, and there are little boats lined up along the shore. Will there be birds? People fishing? I will have to wait till morning. I'm currently very tired, since this morning, I was up early, so very early, to board a plane to Tampa.

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