On Planet Earth a panda strips tendril greens
from pliant stalks, eating the hours of the day
by mining the energy of each leaf;
though he might as well live
off of a spoonful of air.
Overhead the clouds collapse into a fine mist.
If only my only meal didn't reside on Earth.
I imagine invisible spirits,
cooling in the stubborn snow of March,
walking beneath gas lamps like a simulacrum,
livid they cannot find a way home.
Some atmospheres are ripe with foreboding.
Watch a fine spray condense
by slight change in temperature
and if the heart-weather turns frigid in the body
our aborted feathers will lift us toward the sky.
Aileen Keown Vaux is a poet and essayist whose chapbook Consolation Prize was published in 2018 by Scablands Books; she writes for the Inlander and interviews writers for the Rumpus. She grew up in Yakima and is inspired by the agricultural landscapes of Eastern Washington and the queer people who live in those places.