A Mother Calms Her Baby, #194

Where did it go? Where did it
go? Up, up and far away.

Where are we? Sitting next to
a baby and mother crouched

as we can be in the seat,
trying to fend off the neat

curiosity a kid
brings to a fold-down table.

What natural thing could we
be doing right now? Hanging

from a tree in some jungle
or breathing water or light.

Right now, instead of lifting
up off this runway. Instead

of hoping this box of bolts,
a bucket no matter how

well-lit and air-conditioned,
no matter how expertly

cushioned the seats and how well
rested the arms, a bucket

of bolts still, lifting up off
the ground only a few years

after debate and research
and countless faulty designs.

What river could we be still
wading in? The Ohio

or the Hudson, the Nile,
the Congo. In which ocean

instead of this plain, this long
place, this sphere of air reserved

for birds and the tiniest
particles? We could crawl back

into the only ocean,
the one ocean, the divide

a creation of just us.
On hot days, the water rose

up, lifted up to blanket
the earth and cool it on cue.

But here, inside this bucket
it does not warm us. How long

can we long to be returned
to that earth? Generations

become eons until we
fret more that Earth below

us may not want us. So we
hide and try to keep, like milk,

in the arms of our allies,
our friends who would hunker down

like Doozers, like war-planners,
like a council and debate

the world around us, the face
of power and the places,

great forests and long rivers,
most in need of reshaping.

The long slow curving culture
of the mind that carved country

and citizen from Divine
and borrowed land, my body

given by the Earth. We sit,
come up with philosophy

by which we could guide our lives
and the none-too-soon-off lives

of none-too-soon-off children.
What other natural thing

could we be doing? Cooking
a fine meal of hunted

animal or found berries,
consuming the fruits given

by the universe, raising
our young to raise up their minds,

reach such philosophical
heights, fruit from the furthest up

branches on the tallest tree,
dive to such meditative

depths of thought and of design.
The engine is rumbling.

The captain has informed us
of our planned out altitude.

Lovely women have taken
our drink orders. Our children

look out the window and ask
wasdat? wasdat? We could say

it’s the world or the planet
that created us, in turn

the planet recreated
in our image. Instead

we tell them to shush. Breathe deep.
And that what we are doing,

raising a hunk of metal
mined from the ground, heavy due

to gravity and shaped by
men of degrees. These physics

we put our faith in. This lap
we rest them on to whisper

in their ears, all will be fine,
play games with the universe

outside the window. Tell them
this is normal. As we back

off from the umbilical
cord, the jetway, away

from the terminal and gate,
turn and roll down the runway,

as the baby sees the pace
at which we are moving change,

as we pick up speed, blurring
landscape. We honor the great

gulping gas guzzling land
gamboling by. The flatland

that is soon at an angle,
ever increasing, and soon

separate from us as we
begin our lifting. The mom

of the child in the seat
next to me carries a look

of horror. After such long
and soothing assurances,

after attendant, captain
mother and stranger have all

told the same lie, the baby
knows, like all of us sitting

strapped in on this airplane know,
and who told, going silent

like the formerly flapping
lips of the mother until

now wild and unending.
How could we suggest that this

farce of a society
who hones imaginary

value into real worth
and stored money, who honors

science second only to
mythology, a nation

we could trust
just until lips come to rest

on the crest of the tousled
and twist-tied hair, the crowning

head of one consciously
agreed to come to this place,

to join this family, who folds
itself daily into her body.

All was fine until the calm
voices came to a silent

stopping, till all the nightmares
of all the bad things that can

and do exist in this world,
that can, and will certainly

come to fruition, that can
exist utterly because

science and technology
took the pragmatic approach

without care for whom or what
was being made and simply

because religion and God
took the artistic approach

without care for whom or what
was a being created.

This was the apple, the ripe
apple kept far out of reach

that fell from the tree, that bounced
around and hit the ground bruised

and broken, fruit that Adam
picked up and ate from. This branch

of humanity, this seed
of thought that could fashion both

a handgun and Rodin. Where
did it go, the garden? How

can one blame us for looking?
Perhaps it was here, above

us in the sky, kept from us
by the fall and gravity.

Is it outside this window,
higher than the trees, than birds

can fly, up, up and away
above the clouds, in thin air

this body can no more breathe.
Were we once angels? And what

of our innocent children,
perfect like cherubs, who sit

peaceably on our laps, play
with their stuffed animal friends

and toys, who make no noise, who
we lie to, who we assure

and promise nothing awful
will happen, when certainly

something awful will happen.
Can we expect to take off

from this airport, terminal
though we label it to be,

deathtrap and instigator
of war, target of anger?

Can we take off and expect
to land anywhere we think

would be safe and productive,
in any lasting heaven?

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A day is not done, until it's filled with words.

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