During this National Poetry Month 2014, my poems are dedicated to Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. Certain place names are real; nothing else is. If you are new to this blog, scroll down, start reading with “At the Dong Cheng Factory” — and work your way up . . .
forgot to stop
In a sky so slippery,
even the moon slipped.
your hair into feathers,
pulled off your shoes.
It said, Come.
Apologies for sending so many letters, but how am I to stop worrying about you, buried blind under that black water, easy prey for hatchet fish, viperfish, spookfish, bristlemouths, all those ambush predators? Even if you don’t care about us, how can you rest down there
dear you, with your excessive wingspan, your polimer construction, your extended slats, loaded with 227 passengers, 12 crew, your hold full of luggage. You who climbed 35,000 feet and vanished from tracking records while still climbing, dear 777, they say I should let you lie
with the government that guarded your secrets, your black silk underwear, your clandestine terrorist lover, your hidden hijacker, your inner fire, dear you who turned back when you should not have turned, unless
there wasn’t a spark when there shouldn’t have been, the pilots didn’t asphyxiate, didn’t lose their minds, if
there was a secret mission, if you crossed the Indian Ocean, climbed Everest, and landed somewhere on Shangri La, if you would write back to me, dear you, so much to answer for, you
carrying my friend, flying for the first time, still grieving. She’d even named the baby. When you took off, how your light reflected onto her face. How she yearned for you to lift her over those mountains, across that water.
You come back for me oh
you swallow me
drowning lungs fighting
blind nails drawing
you once told me
your shufa symbols
can create miracles
Measure 1 cup of ocean water. Mix with ¼ cup of ashes. Stir. Bring to a rolling boil. Simmer over low heat 10 minutes, or until slightly thickened. Fold in the dust from an airplane’s wing. Remove from heat. Allow to cool. Strain. Drink.
Look for wings of smoke. Seatbelts of smoke.
Air burning in reclining seats
of smoke. Look for us, row after row
of us, slumping down, faces buried
in rags of smoke. Look.
We wait for you
This is when it does not help
to speak. Or to stay
silent. When the roosters
you drew come to roost
in the mud below the waves,
when your drowned plum blossoms bloom
and close. When your son
crouches on the floor, head in hands, below
a picture of your missing plane
on which he has written:
Dear father, please be back home
safely. This is when he listens
for your roosters, blindly seeks
the scent of plum. When
we have no right to travel
with him. When prayer
when prophesy, when why
when the clouds slowly
write your name. When the sky
Long have I guarded you, the treasures
of the study. My ink brush,
ink, paper, ink stone. After the exhibition in Kuala Lumpur,
I drank shots of Xifengjiu. Tonight, I sang in the airport bus.
Still half drunk, I boarded, ready
to carry you home.
When we lost communication, I held you, painting
the three symbols of crisis, ending
with an upward sweep. As smoke began seeping
from the pilot’s cabin, I drew fire: A tree standing
in flame. As I breathed smoke, I knew I had to begin
the symbols to drag us toward death. I wonder
in the thousands of years of our art, how many others have passed on
holding you, ready to finish the last stroke of
Bluefin 21 is not blue. It has no fins. It looks
like a big, yellow bomb
with a beanie on top. It looks
for Flight 370 in the South Indian Ocean, diving down
14,800 feet. The South Indian Ocean is 15,000 feet deep.
Below the Bluefin, the dead plane
ferries 227 ghost passengers and 12 ghost crew
in their sea bed. Bound for a soft landing
in the black marsh at the center
of us all.
What happened? Listen, I’m a machine. A “communication device.” We break. I broke
a little. You–you can’t break. You
ask. You don’t want the answer. Air, water, steel. That is what lasts. Whatever
They trawled the waters off Vietnam, the Strait of Malacca, the Andaman Sea. Detected the dying pings of a plane’s black box 15,000 feet below the South Indian Ocean. They say once that box goes silent, no one will find flight 370.
I say we send a deep sea lantern shark to shine its light in those black waters. To haul back a splinter of the plane. A tip of the tip of a wing. I say we hold it and mend it. Heal the cracks with gold. Make it whole. Too small for passengers. Too fragile to fly again.