The Return Conestoga

January, 1967, United Airlines, evening flight from Chicago. Rain.

Chicago wasn’t so ripe for the picking.
The open collars aren’t rubes anymore.
Still un-tied, they own Harvard law degrees,

Lake Shore penthouses, contracts, theories
of arbitrage and cultured cynicism.
At thirty-five thousand feet above the hearth,
home is the hunter, almost. Almost.

Some read, local papers, business journals,
Wall Street, Barron’s, The Times.
Some only pretend to read, and I play the game.
I’m not reading the book in my lap.

We pretend together, pretend to invent
the singletree and yoke, the arrowhead, fire,
silent loving smiles, discover salt. Preserving nothing,
we spread salt on our native ground.

Few choose to eat the airfare dinner,
sodium banquet passed round by the smooth
vacancies our masters breed and mold.

Americans all, are we not our own small masters?

Not many cocktails purchased or dreamed of.
Salesmen, but no golf course coarse jokes.
The American businessman is tired to his bone.

Anonymous, the checked sports coat next to me,
large with salesmanship and cigar smoke,
aims straight ahead, straight for Pittsburgh,
focuses tunneled, unblinking into familiar bowels—
home, children, fire for barbecue or alter.

Did we earn our rest and bread today,
Hunt, build, cut wood, prepare a prayer?
We think business is not awfully good.

No cocktails. No shoptalk.

The plane slogs though a clay of gray drizzle.
Pittsburgh, once you jailed Chicago’s poet.

Richard Fenton Sederstrom was raised and lives in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona and the North Woods of Minnesota. Sederstrom is the author of seven books of poetry, his newest book, Icarus Rising, Misadventures in Ascension, published by Jackpine Writers' Bloc, was released last winter. Read other articles by Richard Fenton.