For a moment, the young men appear
to be outrunning even the enormous plane,
gunmetal gray, pregnant with the weight
of its designated survivors, crawling slowly
along the tarmac, which waves and shimmers
like a colorless flag in the sweltering heat.
For a moment, at just the right angle,
none of their feet appear to be touching
the earth, such is their immediate desire for
release, the endless scroll of blue sky.
For a moment, their shouts seem almost
celebratory, their upheld hands as if in rapture.
They leap and grab at the air, as if tugging
the invisible hem of a god manifested
from this catastrophe by cries and cries alone.
But the ship casts its cold shadow now,
an enormous carpet of night shifting
beneath them, pulling gradually faster until
they are left standing, all but motionless,
on this sun-bleached cement, phosphorescent,
as if something had just been erased,
something already being forgotten.
by Greg Watson
Editor’s Note: This poem drives home the surreality of disaster with its juxtaposition of beautiful, ecstatic imagery against the very real horror of catastrophe. The last line is the killer.