Thursday, August 8, 2013

Poem on a plane

Channelling Icarus

Cattle class they call it,
But cattle live on wide open fields
Until they're belted in, shoulder to shoulder,
And shuffled off to the slaughter...

Luggage, like petulant children,
Resists being stuffed into overhead compartments,
Long-armed flight attendants, masters of the internal eye-roll,
Provide patient, patronising assistance.

Bach in F does his best, meanwhile,
Tugging at the thin strings of fast-falling rain, like fears
Racing down the night's window panes,
Failing to find the traction of courage on the slippery, see-through surface

Of flying too far from the sun, too deep into a black-suited oblivion
Forever below zero; forever frost-bitten
Trusting blindly in the tricks and tempers
Of man-made wings and obediently armed exits.

Bach now heavy breathing in my ear
Whispers and weeps bitter-sweet warnings from the past,
Ignoring nothing of the present, as the engines exert their urgent thrust -
I should have been born a man, for all this feminine fuss.

Swimming in the dry sky now, as smooth and surreal as emptiness
Shaking, in turbulent turns, like a baby between hugs
My fleshy flying hands resting on the page beyond the glass,
Reflect a warmer, other-worldly age, and class

Descent means it's nearly over -
All thirty-eight thousand feet of it,
Should the night loosen its grip and let us slip through its flimsy fingers,
To fall gently, the weight of a thousand men.

A young choral singer now hits an improbable note
Holding us up, like a heavyweight puppet,
While the engines grind down the gears of my fears
Pushing and trembling against gravity's great greed for speed

Delivering us to Earth with a thankful thud,
Brakes roaring a masculine bravado, like birth in reverse,
And me now wondering, what was all the fuss
How could I ever have thought of walking into water, weighed down and wingless.

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