Belief ~ Lisa Norris


The little plane lifts–a lark
at first–from that Idaho runway,
to get you into wilderness–only
one quick way, engine turning
like a lawnmower’s.
You watch wings’ shadows
diminish. Angling high,

you who left church
for Sunday hikes remember
the Psalmist moving
through the Valley
of the Shadow of Death, supposedly
fearing no evil
as the pilot buzzes the peaks
at the level of fire towers:

one down draft
as you pass over the treetops,
and you’ll be wreckage–oh, how tippingly
he turns that plane in the narrow
canyon, so the river flies
sideways. In headphones, he cannot hear you

cursing, singing hymns and working
any other desperate remnant
of remembered religiosity
returning in a rush
of panic: you can’t watch,
though it thrills you–
you prefer the dark, shift into
follower gear. This

is how it happens: you first
must be deeply afraid–then
if you fall to your knees,
won’t the rest of the descent
be easier? Faith is

an updraft, that gusty tale
making the prospect of crash
less terrible as you fall.
You close your eyes to pray
as the plane goes down
the air’s declivity.