Some remembered the final crackle of radio transmission like campfire. Others, the explosion over the Everglades. The chrysanthemum of combustibles: orange and white and red at the edges of the clouds. The terrific noise that had no echo. Some insist to themselves the travelers died of oxygen deprivation, as in falling asleep as when their mother or father read that long bedtime story, never completing it, tucking them in as they drifted into sleep.

Some will remember the sound of riveted seams wrenched apart. Some might contemplate the ease at which falling metal crumbles in collision with an immoveable object, such as the earth.  Airplane parts folded like sodden origami underfoot.

Numbers that accompany the crash: the barometric pressure as a thunderstorm builds, the velocity of the aircraft in descent, the latitude and longitude of the crash site, the few ounces of fuel left in the helicopter when the wreckage is discovered.

What came to rest, charred and indiscernible––a precipitation of sorts: women’s embroidered handbags, men’s hats punctuated with guinea hen feathers: key limes, Miccosukee patchwork, contraband Cuban cigars. Within twisted luggage, clothes folded meticulously as a nun’s hands in prayer.

In years to come, remembered at the oddest moments: set in the nestlike hummock of sawgrass growing in brackish water, a perfectly filled and intact plastic bag with 50 shimmering tropical fish, some orange, some white, some red at the edges.

 

Catherine Sutthoff Slaton

Catherine Sutthoff Slaton is a West Coast writer graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in English/Creative Writing. In July 2017, she traded in her REI raincoat for a longer REI raincoat and her Doc Martens for a pair of ultrahigh Bogs and moved from Seattle to the small farming community of Chimacum on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula where in addition to writing she works her bee hives and raises dairy goats. Her poems have been published in Soundings Review (Pushcart nominee), Switched-On Gutenberg, Till, Hummingbird Press, Raven Chronicles, Tupelo, and King County Metro Transit’s Poetry on Buses Series. Her essays have been published in Inkwell, (February 2020), and WORK Literary Journal (Spring 2020). She will also be published in Rumpus, Fall 2020.

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