The celebrated bookstore Politics and Prose in Washington,D.C. periodically publishes a collection entitled "District Lines" featuring writing about life in the Nation's capital. My piece called Flight Pattern: Zackary appears in the January 2016 edition. You can read it here:
Flight Pattern: Zackary
All during recess, while the other kids perfected
their drop kicks or chased each other through the
climber, the quiet boy simply sat on a swing and
watched the sky, waiting for the stirring and
suck of air as another jet, inbound for Reagan,
glided over the school playground.
Sometimes a teacher said, “Why aren’t you
running around?” or “Get some exercise, Zack.”
So the boy would get off the swing and wander
across the grass, but he’d never stop looking up.
The planes were part of his day. Like the turtle
in the science room. Like the kind lady who
directed the carpool line.
He read the airline names aloud to himself. Then
he followed with his head, as the jets, one by
one, swallowed the space above MacArthur
Boulevard, and eased down the
Potomac like geese heading south.
He sometimes traveled with his family,
wedged next to the window, his ears cottony-
thick, his mouth dry as a pretzel, going off to
grandma’s or holiday, itchy with anticipation.
But being inside and seat-belted, it wasn’t the
same. He couldn’t take in the whole bird, the
grace of its beak, the determination of its roar.
Here, out on the playground, he liked to imagine
the jets as pterodactyls, wider than a soccer
field, larger than third grade itself.
He wished that the creatures could dip down
and let him ride on their silver backs,
bronco style, his tee-shirt flapping, his hair
blowing and turbulent, his face visibly brave.
He envisioned the city below him like
a puzzle on a table, the toy cars crossing
the Key Bridge, his classmates and teachers
rooted to the ground, not even knowing he was