By Robert Conquest
After the horrors of Heathrow
A calmness settles in.
A window seat, an ambient glow,
A tonic-weakened gin.
The pale-grey wings, the pale-blue sky,
The tiny sun’s sharp shine,
The engines’ drone, or rather sigh;
A single calm design.
Those great wings flex to altering air.
Ten thousand feet below
We watch the endless miles of glare,
Like slightly lumpy dough.
Below that white all’s grey and grim,
The wrong side of the sky.
Reality’s down in that dim
Old formicary? Why?
What though through years, the same old way,
That world spins on its hub?
The mayfly’s simple summer day
Beats lifetimes as a grub!
A geologic fault, this flight:
Those debts, that former wife,
Make some moraine down out of sight,
Old debris of a life.
(Only one figure, far and clear
Looks upward from that trough
A face still visible from here
-The girl who saw him off.)
The huge machine’s apart, alone.
The yielding hours go by.
We form a culture of our own
Inhabiting the sky.
Too short? Yet every art replies,
Preferring for its praise
To Egypt’s smouldering centuries
The brief Athenian blaze …
That flame-point sun, a blue-set jewel,
Blazed blurredly as it went.
Our arguments run out of fuel.
We dip for our descent.
We drift down from pure white and blue
To what awaits us there
In customs shed and passport queue
-The horrors of O’Hare.
On Monday morning we took Daniel to National Airport to fly to Seattle. His flight was late enough that we had time for lunch at Ben's Chili Bowl before he went through security -- there were news teams in the airport, presumably reporting on possible TSA disruptions from the government shutdown -- and we came home to get various work and chores done. Adam will be back at the airport in two days to fly to Curaçao with Katherine to celebrate their both having jobs after graduation.
We had Indian food for dinner and watched the Clemson-Alabama championship game, which I thought might have a big score discrepancy but expected Alabama to win, so we enjoyed that a lot! Annoyingly, our county apparently decided to stop picking up certain types of plastic recycling as of the start of this year, but didn't send out any kind of notification the way they do when they change the pickup schedules for holidays, so they picked up almost nobody's bins this morning and the street is a mess!