Morning Flight

The air is cold, while the darkness endures.
That same air brought me dew to wash me.
On currents of moonlight I have sped in a roar,
Carrying men on their eternal strange errands.
In the sun's early light they filled my belly with luggage;
Myself they filled with themselves.

Up, across, and down, the stars above
And the jeweled fields called cities below,
The clouds around me and the moon behind:
These are my walls, the endless horizon my goal.
It matters not that this same mysterious convexity
Leads ever on to the same destinations:
Such is my spirit that if my endless trek
Can only the same ports rediscover,
I can accept it.

Yet what if once
I were to straddle that cloud beckoning,
Rather than this usual one?
What if one murmuring cool darkling night
Found my bow turned to Rigel, and not to Vega?
Would it matter?
Would my downward casting find new fields,
New snows, never seen before?

The other says yes.
He tells me, as the field trembles
To my arrival and his incipient departure,
Even as the humans abandon one ark for another,
Alike but going to different places,
That other routes
Have other stretches of the hard grey ground
To hurtle up at us as we swoop down.
But he adds, as he screams away,
That these new places
Are just the same as the ones I have known.

How can this be?
Perhaps I shall test this claim.
For unless I have flown all skies,
Can I be content with this one?
Can I live by another's words,
Think with another's thoughts,
Trust another's truths?
I think not.

With a final roar, he lifts free and leaves me.
I cannot see him clearly,
The early fog covers me still.
But I know the chilling wind will dispel that
And the sleep in human eyes.

They are aboard, with their pitiful bags.
Night having ended, I saw the sun rise,
After long night's freight.
Again I race the beacon lights.
Fueled, my silver skin gleaming with morning dew,
Like a toy the Earth I cast away.

—East Lansing, Michigan
February, 1970
Copyright © 1970 by Green Sky Press.  All rights reserved.  Backgrounds and images are copyright by their respective authors, who retain all rights.