April 8, 2006

Climbout on Easter Sunday

      "Once past V1, the pilot must commit the plane to flight."

WE RISE in a banking curve of pure velocity
over fallow fields and arid grids of neighborhoods,
arcing up over ponds painted with the slick scum
oozing from the oil pans of countless sunken cars,
from punctured sacks of toxic trash, from fleshless jaws
of unsolved murders, of missing persons filed in muck.

WE RISE welded to first-class armchairs,
clutching the crisply printed sheets
of yesterday's most meaningful events,
rise up above our lies and lives,
above, away, alone, alas, good-bye
to families and all terrestrial ties,
our very cellulars, by law, silenced
so that our murmurs not unbalance
the delicate electronics on which so much
at this tremulous moment devoutly depends
that we dare not think on it, and so select
music of our choice from mid-heaven's jukebox.

WE RISE in the faltering dark
into the pale flicker of a cosseted sun
slatted in flashes through fingers of cloud,
up into the white blood of the sinewed sky --
and so our days and worlds slip by.

WE RISE UP to where all breath is snow,
so far that all above becomes below,
up until the sky is seen as vapor
smeared white on rough construction paper
wrapped around the dawn we race.

WE RISE UP, that from the Earth we only seem
a fading gesture, an echoed trace
of fog, distinguished only by direction,
onward over ancient seas, past all reflection.

AND STILL WE RISE, our lush ascent
thrust by ageless diatoms' descent
into the ooze between the fossilized stones,
the shattered crypts of shells and bones,
above the planned green autumn fields
of pasture, silage, grain that yields
the bread we break in our floating meal.

WE ARC ABOVE the fresh turned loam and weeds,
splotching with dark ochre a continent of seeds,
over the Van Gogh's carved by clumsy tractors
where all strokes are formed by sunflowers
that, loitering, turn toward the sun spinning west,
as our sudden shadow slashes that coiled canvas
keener and quicker than hunting hawks,
and flashes on before us without rest.

AND STILL we rise, resurrected,
through the thinning strands of sky reflected,
until the edge of day the stars deny,
and where all the worlds we knew slip by,
tangled below in a mapless maze of rivers,
our passing but a whisper that shivers
the dream of a drowsing owl, a silver splinter
caught in a facet of the eye of winter,
and, unremarked or written, quickly glides
beyond the reach of records or of guides.

WE RISE until at last held still
in that white hand that grasps the sky,
alone within our tube of paper steel,
our ascent breaks and we slide
out onto the silent lake of granite ink,
over the steaming waters of absolute zero,
reflecting the empty gaze of God,
beyond warm hands and touch of earth.

NEVER NOW to stagger or slip
back to the shadows and rain,
back to the warm musk of day,
but, keen as an iron blade
touched to the tongue,
we sail out on these slate seas
to the far edge of imagine,
and on, still beyond,
into the heart of the stars,
into the silence of their songs.


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Posted by Vanderleun at April 8, 2006 11:43 PM | TrackBack
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

As if Easter morning weren't enough, here's this gift! I'm stunned by the language in this piece, find it simply breathtaking (and happy-making).

Why am I not able to find any of your poetry in print? Really, if you haven't, you must publish a volume of your poems, soon!

Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, for writing this one.

Posted by: danae at March 27, 2005 1:27 AM

A good and fine Easter to you Gerard. You've made
mine better. Do you mind if I grab a bit of this
to post? It's really quite stunning and joyous,
God knows we can all use as much of that today
as can be found. And if you aren't going to see
your Mom today, say 'hi' to her for me.

Posted by: Steel Turman at March 27, 2005 11:15 AM

Thank you for the kind remarks. With this as will anything else I post you are free to do with it what you will

Posted by: Gerard Van Der Leun at March 27, 2005 11:27 AM

'at the edge of imagine..'

Gerard, You have a profound gift for putting words together so that they move the soul. But better than that, you use words to take us places we might never go on our own.

Thank you for this.

Posted by: Amy at March 27, 2005 4:02 PM

Thank you, Gerard. It is wonderful that you still have the passion to be able to write poetry. This one is one to copy, save, and reread, again and again. As a frequent flyer, you capture all the romance of every flight I take.

Posted by: Bill at March 28, 2005 7:31 PM

It's especially rare in this day and age
to expect such vaunted rhyme, so sage.
That much beauty can evoke a tear,
as threats to hope, always seem near.
But on this day of solemn delight
my choice moves now to clear the night.

I'm coming back. I can't chance missing your next. Incredible!


Posted by: Cameron at March 28, 2005 11:42 PM

Thank you for both the beautiful words and the beautiful imagery. I grew up near the Seattle area, and whenever you write of it I feel, for the briefest of moments, that I've returned home.

Posted by: Julie at April 8, 2007 5:05 PM

Gerard -

Posted this comment in an earlier section by mistake, but here it is:

Just wanted to tell you that though I don't get to your website often, I find when I do that your writing is ineffably illuminating: the poetry graceful, and the postings piercing.

Thank you.

Posted by: CeeCee at April 9, 2007 1:01 AM

As a retired airline pilot who spent so many hours blasting through the icy, oxygen-starved firmament in a cigar-shaped aluminum tube, this gives voice to the deeply spiritual feeling that I experienced on each and every flight.

Thank you for that.

Posted by: Jimmy J. at April 9, 2007 10:34 AM

Maybe one day one of my sister's grandchildren will see Earth as a marble, or a pale blue dot in the sky of Saturn's moons. Maybe. Some of us still have the Dream.

It's not too late to get started. Not quite yet.

Posted by: Fletcher Christian at April 9, 2007 12:36 PM

This would go well with Vangelis' "Conquest of Paradise".

Posted by: bill at April 11, 2007 6:22 PM
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