I think of Harry, the loneliest person I know,
who spends solitary winter days in his single wide.
In summers he drives over the Sierras to sit in silence
for two weeks with a group of American Buddhists.
When I ask if he makes friends, stays in touch,
he looks at me and lectures about non-attachment,
says no, at least he doesn’t pretend to be connected.
When the person sitting next to you speaks
or you feel the urge to communicate.
You talk over the racket of airplane brakes.
It’s that moment you dread when you are sure
the plane will crash into the terminal.
You ask the stranger if they live in Reno
The young blonde wife leans forward around him,
says they moved here about three years ago.
You learn they are childless but still trying.
He likes his job and loves to powder ski.
You want to tell him about heli-skiing
n the Ruby Mountains near Elko, tell her…
you hear the click of unfastened seat belts
the popping of unlocked overhead bins,
and the murmuring of the passengers.
The couple whispers to one another
and then you find yourself alone again.
Nancy Harris McLelland taught creative writing, composition, and literature for over twenty years and Conducted writing workshops for the Western Folklife Center, Great Basin College , and the Great Basin Writing Project . An Elko County native with a background in ranching. McLelland has presented her "Poems from Tuscarora" Both at daytime and evening events at the Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko. Her essay, "Border Lands: Cowboy Poetry and the Literary Canon" is in the anthology Cowboy Poetry Matters .