Maggie Swofford


It’s normal to see only darkness

when you look out an airplane window

on a winter evening. It’s normal

to think about pulling away and shrinking

closer to yourself when your neighbor

bumps your elbow.


I have nearly always flinched

at physical contact; it is hard

to touch anyone and feel

welcome or safe from foreign

elements of breath and heartbeat.



When you’re sitting next to me I want

to touch you—I dream about the stars

over your house, the light on your porch,

what it would be like to walk past

the rose bush in your front yard to meet

your eyes lit by the secrets and darkness

of fear; in that dream I’m scared

but unafraid of leaning in, holding

my thumb to your cheek and listening

to my body fight my desire to be close to you.



In my peripherals,

I can see you moving

closer to me—sliding,

like lights on a runway,

to sit just so: your arm

touching my sleeve.

We’re not watching

the flight attendant,

her cool instructions

for what to do when

we plummet into

unyielding water

or flame, your eyes

are looking my way.



The lights fall away, as they always do

when you’re flying.


I can see where we were last time we took off—

just friends;


I mean, we might still be that—but here

you are


in the cylinder of stillness, moving over,



to keeping me near your burning




I know that we have

taken off and are between

cities—we are awake

in the air—and all I can see

are the mixed lamps

of colliding lives below.


We are too high

to look for anything

else but light,

and we are too

close for me to pull

my arm away.

Maggie Swofford is a queer poet who loves outer space, fashion, and Georgia O’Keeffe’s watercolors. She reads and writes poetry that explores reality via unique imagistic language and metaphors. She’s particularly interested in writing poetry that plays with unusual, creative expressions of emotions. Maggie also works in marketing for a publishing company in Boston, MA.