A Letter to a Pilot

Jessica Hsu

San Jose, CA

Archbishop Mitty High School

Poetry

Dear pilot,

I want to fly,

But I cannot find my wings.


“before we began”


there were new wings

riddled with red and white

flapping and reaching for

the blue.


“ready for departure”


ready for a high screech ringing out

my words garbled in the deafening

wind that twists them.

and twists those wings

a rumble reverberating in its wake.


“brace yourselves”


to prepare for seeing the world’s beauty but all i see

are dots of what could be bigger

facts and numbers and

photographs

tell one tale

but the face that lands into my shattered thoughts

tells another.


“prepare for descent”


to see a smeared face in blackness

my throat burning with unquenched flames from food

that slides chillingly into my throat

the smell striking at every part of me with needle sharpness

chokes and gags and glues my lips.


“we are approaching”


hands are almost touching

stomach caving and folding

i struggle but i am ordered to seal my mouth

with a brown, flimsy, four-letter-labeled bag

too shallow to contain the dripping, tangled wail

threatening to burst out of me.


“we will soon arrive”


at my reflection where i see eyes too dry and

i close them

yet droplets slide from tiny slits

leaving a trail of dizzying blue vapor

settling into me until my breath

is caught into my throat and

where is the water coming from?


So dear pilot,

I really do want to fly,

But the wings that you have given me have stripped away my own.



Letter to a Pilot was first published in The Foredge Review

EDITORIAL PRAISE

Nostalgic, mournful, beautiful. Packed with profound symbolism and brilliant slant rhymes, the piece pleads to be read over and over again.

Jessica Hsu is a senior at Archbishop Mitty High School in San Jose, California, graduating in 2021. She loves writing poetry and edits for her school’s literary magazine. When she’s not writing, reading YA novels, or watching movies, she’s most likely playing the flute or competing in speech and debate.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR