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The Forum Prize

Lawrence Rhu
Columbia, SC

 

Connecting Flights

Twisted neon tubes illuminate

arcades that span Midway’s moving walkways. 

I’m flying home to see my father 


and join a group of teachers to discuss 

biblical poetry. At the Best Western

I share a room with Sharif, a Tucson native


whose Sufi wit inspires a second look

at God’s almighty bipolarity 

before we theorize about divine 


machinery and traffic management 

of transcendental flight for passengers

like us between stops halfway home. 


No chariot of fire here gives us a lift. 

My father soon will fall like fruit too ripe 

with time, oblivious, the way his mother 


ended up unhappily. She took her leave 

in loneliness apart from family 

and friends. Etched in bright green neon tubes, 


like those at Midway terminal, a cactus

signifies the Saguaro Drug Store’s open. 

I often pass it, heading east on Grant. 


In front of me the Catalinas call

to mind a watercolor that my father 

painted one rainy day that made him keep


indoors. For a second the world looks inside

out and freshly rinsed—as though the mountains 

stay with us, however far away we go.