My Poetry - Freedom Flight

Freedom Flight

In the photo, she
is left-side pilot,
squinting up at
the compass, talking
into the mic cupped
in her hand.

Earlier she’d climbed
atop each wing, lifted off
the gas caps, and
peered into the
iridescent, rainbow colored
greasy smelling fuel tanks.

Several times she’d circled
the plane, inspecting each item
and checking it off the pre-flight list.

She’d stood on the brakes and
run up the engine to its max,
causing the plane to quiver
like a dead butterfly on
a moving windshield.

She is pretty and poised
but her heart is pounding.
She has not yet taken
her first solo flight.
She is learning to fly
to overcome her fear
of flying, her agoraphobia,
her fear of everything.

She will steadily shove the
throttle into the firewall
and the plane will skip
down the runway,
leap into the air,
wings outstretched
embracing the wind.

The plane will feel lightweight
and different somehow;
the instructor’s right-side
seat so empty.

She will climb to
traffic pattern altitude, then
throttle back, level off to
straight and level flight.

And from her cozy cockpit, she
will look out over her shoulder
and see the highway to the airport;
the one she used to couldn’t travel.
The road between the airport
and her house. The house in which
she was trapped.

She will turn final
approach to the runway
lower flaps; center the nose
scan the wingtips and
note the seat of her pants.

Then throttling back more,
she’ll aim the plane
onto the first third of the runway
careful to miss trees and
power lines on the way down.

Slower airspeed now, the
controls feel mushy in her hands.
Things busy in the cockpit;
a symphony, crashing cymbals,
blasting trumpets, banging drums.

Flaps all down
throttle all back
propeller fly-wheeling
on the ground with a screech.

Landings equal take-offs and
a new pilot guides the
plane back to the hanger.

I search the photo now
for any foreshadowing
of this flight. I only
recognize that she
had more courage
then I’ll ever have today.

And generations hence
might understand–
I love her; I’m proud of her;
she kissed the face of God
and turned into her prince.