You have to know, that in a desert boneyard full of airplanes, a monkey on a wing sits.
In the air, a rusted plane flies. The sun sets and the plane lands. A door opens and a woman in a jacket sits in the hole, the hole of the rusted plane, the plane that has come to the desert to die. The monkey bounds, for the woman has long hair. She has blue eyes. And the monkey wonders: who is this woman that brings planes to the boneyard, leaving them to sulk in the sand, to fly no more?
As the night falls, the monkey goes to the door and climbs inside the new plane. Here are seats. Here are buttons. Here is red and here is blue, here is white on a pair of shoes. The woman of long hair and blue eyes sleeps in a row called 18E. The monkey sits over her in pale moonlight of the desert sand, where airplanes go to die.
How shall I recite poetry, wonders the monkey? He found a book once in a plane that died long ago, of pleasure domes and ice cream cones, of sunless seas and giant polar bees. He spreads his arms and produces these charms, long mutters in the moonlit night, indistinct and inarticulate because the monkey is not a poet tonight. The woman sleeps, unmoved, and the monkey on the edge of the chair simply sits.
In the back of the plane, a bag of trinkets. The monkey puts on a hat. He brushes his teeth. Then he takes a razor and plugs it in. Looking in a mirror in the bathroom, he shaves himself until the skin is clean, the colour revealed. He stands straight and puts on some socks. To the cockpit he goes, touching the buttons and pulling the levers of the airplane that is dying, whose future is not the sky and distant lands, but the heat of the forever sands.
All the night and into dawn, the monkey in a pilot’s chair sits. When the light comes, the monkey takes a pen and writes on paper. His letters – learned from a children’s book he found in a seat pocket once – are coarse like sand, floating as they trail from an airplane’s wing. This is the story, says the bald monkey in the hat. These are words and you have now my story as I tell it in the desert. Long ago, I came here in an airplane sent to die, and long have I explored the husks of these dreams that are still alive. I have learned much from your deaths, but it is to this woman that I pen these words, letters born of ancient spells and great ringing bells. I see you come here again and again, dropping from the sky, a dream, a fairy, an angel by the by. What must you think, what would you believe, if you knew that a monkey on an airplane wing each time watches you leave?
The monkey tucks the note into her hand. He takes off his hat and bows, this jungle creature stowed away a million years ago on a planet beset by stars, aching to grow and simply to be, but here in a boneyard desert, has only dreams. He swings out the door. Onto the sands he lands. And then he goes to a spot, on an airplane wing no less, where he can watch what happens next.
The woman of the long hair and blue eyes goes to the door. There is a paper in her hand. She is reading in the dawn. Blue eyes look at the boneyard, searching the planes and the sands. The mystery of the land. She comes here so often, but no one lives here. No angels. No lost souls. No poets made of old monkey bones.
Later, a small plane lands and the woman goes to it. She climbs in, as the monkey on an airplane wing sits. She cannot see him. Has never known him. But the monkey sees her often, and watches as she jumps into the sky, away, away, goodbye. In the door of the newest plane, something small and beautiful remains. It is a book. It is a recollection. It is her words of who she is. It is an account of every airplane she has brought to the boneyard, there to die in the love of the hot sands.
All the day, the monkey reads. Fingers trace the letters, letters make the words, and in the heat of the desert day, the monkey becomes a bird: flying over many lands, jumping into many skies, deserts and seas, shelves of ice and mountains made of green. The monkey travels the world and so he sees, the places where these planes have been. Fair lady, he wants to say. Come back tomorrow or another day. Sit with me on this wing, as the desert murmurs and sometimes sings.
So it goes, as the sun sets on the endless expanse of land. Heat shimmers as creatures stir in the sand. A boneyard creaks and crackles with disuse, memories dissolving of the faraway places and their truths. And the monkey? Plainly in love, reading from a page, adjusts his cap and taps his chin. The night is cool, the moonlight grand. And as the morning comes, the monkey, older and wiser and bald as a rock, on the wing of an airplane still sits.