She had decided that morning, in a darkly pivotal failure of nerve, to not meet them as expected after all. The ticket was on her desk--had she taken that flight, she would have landed safely and been in route to her friends' planned reunion...
TRAGIC FRACTION, FLYING PUBLIC
"I SAW PEOPLE LOOKING Out The Windows..."
(verbatim from on-location aftermath news coverage)
She'd be in her late twenties by now.
I remember a bristling background
of evergreens tossing behind her in the interview
like immense horses sensing fire with no way out
and her mother crying gingerly...
the blond anchor's back to gust, holding the mic
as if the way she did might soothe somehow,
trust-friendly, leaning slightly left--east--
instead of right...then closer, subtly...
Coach & first class
identically fated, all the places they came from,
to be called forth, to board by row...
their faces, as backyards below surged by
with empty swings in motion,
things designed to report the wind, spinning, HARD,
blurred...chimes, heard & unheard,
pentatonic tube-chimes & little brass bells
clamoring & tinkling over patios & doorwells
as if to Say, as if to Warn:
of an impact that would skew pictures
on walls in homes five blocks away, and thunderclap one Toll
for the end of all those lifetimes...
with this girl, so close, yet safe to see so clearly in passing...
a familiar immensity otherworldly on a glidepath
hardly the height of her treehouse over powerlines she knew
Clearly her mother's fear; yet,
a severe privilege was granted her,
to haunt an unknown audience
with the point-blank innocence of her witness...
I'd likely buy the novel she could write
of that moment, see the movie made of it,
of those lives, that sold-out flight of faces
in a fixed row of window-seats
doubtless similar on the side she did see,
and the side she didn't.
Imagining those lifetimes, their birthdays come to this
perfectly-shared end, this
final day so unknowingly noted,
circled on the calender, arrangements made for departure
and, unnecessarily, as it turned out, arrival...
the ways & means they took
to board that flight. The little things done
to make it on time, the yell to hurry, the red light run...
the relief at the gate, the last latte, the final beer...
[Reading papers their death would be headlines in tomorrow}
The Times, the Tribune...here @ last now, the relaxed
And then fatally, irreversibly, airborne. The many, or the few,
or even the one, who met her silent, gaping look down there,
that lone depth of stare from the wholeness
of life ahead of her, to the hurtling
last seconds of their own.
P.S. There were unfortunately 'ground fatalities' too. A woman who hadn't flown for ten years after a dream of seeing her name on a list of plane crash victims--and for whom close friends had staged an "intervention" by sending her a free ticket to join them at a beloved location on that very day--died in the explosion from across the street, serving tea in her living room.
(She had decided that morning, in a darkly pivotal failure of nerve, to not meet them as expected after all. The ticket was on her desk--had she taken that flight, she would have landed safely and been in route to her friends' planned reunion).