Here is the 45th poem in my 52-poem sequence (one a week) for 2013, followed by some illumination and reflection:
When they said Go To Gate 42
(the meaning of life I noticed)
that mystic silence fell around me again
and I walked the white corridors alone
anodyne, analgesic, antiseptic
those before and behind moving somehow
like the dead approaching heaven
floor tilting upwards, leading priest-like
blinded by the polarised red sun
towards the altar of magnificent suspension.
I love exactly what the others hate
that take-off moment when we lay our necks
on the guillotine of fate and trust
the power of an unseen stranger
of soothing voice and suitably elaborate uniform
then I can do nothing anymore about my own survival
and for a moment thus become sublimely free.
Always loved the old myth
despite or because of perhaps, the fatal outcome
the world’s first aviation disaster
but up there I look down through symphonies of golden clouds
and glimpse the pattern of my life from the privileged viewpoint
the alta vista, things almost making sense, the pieces fit
or at least the jigsaw picture is revealed.
I never want to come down to my city’s lousy weather.
Up there it’s always bright and blue where night can be escaped
and the fleeing sun pursued.
Death’s dress rehearsal tells me what we fear
will not be half so bad but twice as good
and whispers, kissing,
always drawing near.
I wrote this poem two years ago, on the way back from Fantasycon in Brighton, from which I have, as it happens, just returned again. I wouldn’t be writing poetry again were it not for the encouragement I received there from my friends Nina Allan, Allen Ashley and Terry Grimwood.
The poem was an attempt to explain to myself the strange and ethereal happiness I always seem to experience in airports. But let’s give architect Sir Norman Foster his due, Stansted, and the quality of light there, is far superior to many other contemporary versions of this building type. I came back through Gatwick today for instance, and the place is a series of gloomy sheds seemingly cobbled together by bored madmen.
For an illustration, since we previously mentioned Icarus here, we’re going to go for the alternative but related theme of Saint Sebastian and the haunting sculpture “Tar baby vs St Sebastian” by Michael Richards, who died in the attack on the Twin Towers in September 2011.