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Wide-Eyed Look

ISSUE:  Winter 2002

As fog lowered and lowered the navigable ceiling,
fear made you silent, more competent,
not allowing it to hold you,
flying along rivers and roads through valleys,
around mountains, and I trusted you

in those 50-year old contraptions
of balsawood and cloth, rocking
as they puttered like child’s play
across the sky, trusted you
not just with my life, but my death,
happy to die with you, doing this.


Only once—so steady and sure
were you in a plane—the unexpected
shocked you: the commuter bound for Albany
from Boston crossing our bow at such
scant distance the passengers’ faces loomed
at the glass, and you turned to me
with eyes so wide and blue
they seemed overtaken by sky
and all the unforeseen it contained.

We laughed at our luck, but never
tested it again, on the invisible road
of our flight plan. When, on unfamiliar ground,
that Jeep came skidding and leaping
at you, whirling on ice you couldn’t
stop on, I wondered how much you knew
in those seconds when no maneuvering
could save you, and whether the wide-eyed look
you’d turned towards me was on your face then:
the look that would have been your last,
amazed that this blacktop with its negligible
coat of black ice—bare fields and silos
the only witnesses—would be where skill
and calm competence, strength and appetite
for life counted as nothing to the unforeseen.


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