Examining the Wreckage

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I am drawn to plane crashes.
I read about them,
every detail,
and try to figure out what happened
and what the pilot did wrong,
which is only a way of wondering what I would have done.

And of course I would have done it right,
have analyzed the problem,
the sputtering engine,
the heavy controls,
the failed generator,
and I would have gotten down okay,
and I would never would have flown in that weather,
and I would have watched for ice,
and I would have turned back,
and I would never have gone near that thunderstorm
or flown those mountains at night
or taken a single engine over water
or any of those dumb things
other pilots do every day.

But when I think about the pilot years
I remember things done wrong:
an aileron roll too close to the ground,
a foggy landing I should not have tried,
a thunderstorm full of hail
like the sound of a thousand hammers,
a failed drag chute, a blown tire
and a bomb under the wing.
All that without a crash.

At this point I should make a metaphor
about life and flying,
but flying is easier than life.
When a plane crashes,
I can go there and know
that I am not in the wreckage.

This originally appeared in On Paying Attention: New and Selected Poems, published by Peake Road Press, an imprint of Smyth & Helwys.

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