Issue 3



Jess Alfaro


Flight Distance

Later she would admit
to herself she was coming
   right at it. Up to some point
   she could have swerved away
       despite being sandwiched
       among rollerbladers,
         pedestrians and other cyclists,
         10-speeds outstripping cruisers
            in the oncoming lane, everyone’s
            eyes sideways toward Muscle Beach.
               She saw how tame it was,
               how relaxed as it weaved
                  its way through traffic.
                  She wanted to see how close
                     she would get before it took off:
                     flight distance, a standard measure
                        in biology of a wild animal’s
                        habituation to humans.
                            She was surprised when
                            it held its ground; more
                              surprised upon impact, a squawk
                              as it spun, caught in her wheel,
                                 its own confused whirls of crying
                                 quiet compared to dismay,
                                    to the immediacy of
                                    anger invoked in the crowd
                                       of witnesses around her.
                                       Think quick! She kicked it
                                          out from her spokes
                                          to free it, a tumble
                                             of grey feathers and red
                                             claw in her peripheral
                                                          vision as she sped away,
                                                          gunning toward safety,
                                                                  toward the tunnel, the tar, the wood,
                                                                  the blackness under the boardwalk.