D. Dina Friedman

                           I’ve Just Folded This Poem Into An Airplane


To prepare for flight, I deepen the crease, rip off a piece of the corner, spit on the wing for luck. I fling the paper toward the fence, which is covered with black sheathing. There’s a sign on the black that says “no trespassing.”

On the other side of the fence, boys wear orange hats.


Will my plane make it over the border? Will one of the boys catch my plane in his orange hat?

Or will the man with the biceps who stands by his police car making videos intercept my plane and kick it into the gutter? He is making videos because we are standing on ladders, holding up hearts on long sticks so the boys can see them.


Should I send this poem to airplane makers, since this used to be an Air Force base before it became a prison for children in orange hats?

We used to think school was a prison because the desks were bolted to the floor. We weren’t allowed to sail paper airplanes in school, but sometimes the boys got wild and threw them anyway. They got sent to the Principal’s Office.


Sometimes the boys wave their orange hats at us and curl their hands into the shape of a heart.

Sometimes we hug and kiss in front of the bicep man to make the videos more interesting. We can’t hug the children. The children can’t hug each other.


We don’t see the girls. We heard they only come out when there’s no one on the ladders to hold up hearts, or write poems and fold them into paper airplanes. It’s always that way when it comes to treating girls.

I would like to talk to the girls. I would like to talk to the bicep man making the videos. I say good morning to him, but he doesn’t answer. I say good afternoon to him. He doesn’t answer.


In school, our children have written letters to the children in the orange hats. We bring the children’s letters to the bicep man. The bicep man says he can’t take the letters. Everything needs to be checked for poison powder.

This is why we have to fold the letters into paper airplanes and sail them over the fence. How to fold a thousand letters into paper airplanes, like a thousand paper cranes?


Before the launch, we make videos of the letters in case they don’t arrive. They are filled with pictures of houses, and dogs, and funny robots.

One letter says, “Hola amigo. I was an immigrant like you, but now I’m here. I’m happy.”