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 . . .
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.
the candle I lit to pray for your life. The plane. The ghost of the pilot. The air. Anointing
the dying flame with the juice of the sourest lemon, I doubly curse
the boss who sent you to Beijing. The TV camera
that captured my tears. With my sharpest needle, stabbing
the anointed flame, I triply curse
the one who should have gone before you. I beg, Please Lord, stop
my empty heart.
I tear the shirt my daughter drew.
A girl. A rose.
The garden we were then.
Dipping her uprooted cotton
into my last drops of water. Struggling
to draw in air. I
swaddle my face, swallow
my voice. Begin to breathe
into smoke. Into clouds.
Too close to her
to pray. Too close to ask
on the ground.
They say the plane is lost.
The boss is lost.
I see him
in the needle of my machine, stitching
in out in out
embroidering pictures of his face
on the pockets of the jeans I sew
walking, staring back
everywhere he’s been.
I’d buy a magazine, a bottle of water, Tylenol.
The flight attendant would take my boarding pass.
It’d be morning when we reached Beijing,
the heavy air, the boys on bicycles, the daybreak Tai chi.
I’d sleep through the flight.
In my dream, the plane would never disappear.
I’d never disappear.
I’d read the magazine, drink the water, take the Tylenol,
wait for the night to pass
while I pictured the tarnished dragons of Beijing
gathering for daybreak Tai chi.
I’d warn those smoke dragons off my flight
snuff their lights, cut the sound.
Enjoy my business lady dreams.
Take my Tylenol,
wait for the miles to pass.
Listen to the plane say hello to Beijing.
Get ready to wake up for morning Tai chi.
They dug me from islands and continents, melted me, assembled me. My wings from Japan, my control from Britain, my rudder from Australia. And you, where did they assemble you?
You called me She. You laughed sometimes. Other times you sang, “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah.” When I hummed, you said, Hello.
You flew me soft. So soft, I forgot. Forgot I was a wide body. A carbon-fiber polymer. I thought I was air. How
could I spark? I had never felt fire. As I burned
you did not call me She. You did not laugh. You did not sing. When I tried to hum, you said nothing. When you said
Climb, I climbed. When you said Dive, I dove. When you put me on autopilot, I flew. I flew for you through my own smoke
while my engines ran dry. While I shook and fell. While my wings left my control. Until we were no longer air.
Hot night. Heavy plane. 227 passengers. 12 crew. Smooth take-off. Routine “Good night.”
Spark. Flying dark. Get this machine down. Airports ahead, airports behind. Palau Langkawi. Safest bet. Turn.
Smoke, smoke, smoke hood won’t last. Breathe shallow. Low oxygen starves fire–climb. 45,000 feet. Smoke. Breathe shallow. Dive to extinguish fire. 25,000 feet. Smoke. Go
automatic pilot. Get this machine to Paulau Langkawi. 227 passengers. 12 crew. Stay conscious. Stay conscious. Stay
Your time will come.
Flying deaf, radar down
I will place this blind jet, all of us
inside the silence that is you.
Nothing can hurt
like the silence that is you,
your song of the old world
the old year.