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To Take Them from the Air

Nothing weighs as much as a thing
meant for the air falling to the earth.

Take the small flock of blue
wing teal wheeling through the flooded timber

of a childhood memory—

watch how the long arm of my shotgun blast
clutches and crumples their little bodies

and tumbles them wing over wing
into the water. How lovely

it was to watch them fly, though
how much more satisfying to take them from the air.

Now take the sleek tubes of the space shuttle
booster rockets as they lose

their struggle with the thin, darkening atmosphere
shown that day on the television

screen in Mrs. Hardister’s 6th grade classroom,
pieces of the craft falling away

into cottony parabolas, gorgeous
arcs of material pulled back into the grave

context of disintegration and tragedy
as interpreted to us by adults.

Take, finally, nearly two decades later,
my own classroom full of 7th graders

marveling over the first tower’s collapse
within its column of ash, when one boy

finds the strange joy in watching a thing fall
from the air to the earth, exclaiming

with a belly full of awe, Wow!
That just happened! And another boy shakes

his head, smiles, and says, Dude,
people just died in there….


Posted 04/28/11
Originally published in the Spring 2009 issue of Tar River Poetry.
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