Aaron E. Holst


Gray plastic buckets of belts and shoes, carry-ons and keys,
      glide on shiny metal rollers into the Tunnel of Love,
Where agents peer into privates—underwear,
      mismatched socks, wrinkled pants, rumpled shirts.
Magic wands move up and down, along our sides,
      all around us, wave away terror.

My body passes through the metal detector,
      no bells, no whistles, no flashing lights,
no agents dashing to intercept, and, I grin,
      for the rod, the titanium cylinder inside my leg,
sneaks through, not the slightest hint
      of danger.

We trade seats, my window for young boy’s aisle.
      His father sits between us, and the bright-eyed,
first-time-flier gapes out the window,
      his curiosity wings through the cabin.
Dad grins, salutes my generosity.
      My whispered confession—
“Straight shot to the head from here.”

Two hours, from wheels up to
      wheels down.
In fitful sleep,
      I dream of old men,
Dying as they doze, no
      slobber, no lurch,
no clutch to chest,
      no turbulence,
just a slight lift heavenward.

Aaron F. Holst, 63, of Sheridan, retired four years ago after spending most of his work life in municipal fire protection. He served as the Fire Chief for Sheridan, Wyoming, for 14 years, and Bozeman, Montana, 8 years. He now spends his time writing, reading, fishing and cooking his wife’s dinner when she comes home from work. He says, “Maybe this is the best career ever!” His sun sign is Taurus.