Atta Boy by Andrew Shields

I am not a silent poet

Tomorrow for the young poets exploding like bombs

W.H. Auden, “Spain”

He had a dream. And when at last he walked

through the security check, unaware

of the camera capturing his final journey,

he collected his carry-on bag from the X-ray conveyor

with growing confidence and surprise. The gate

waited down the corridor, as patient

as his years of silent preparation.

His comrade’s nervous glances, as bright and quick

as breaking glass, only served to nourish

his certainty: with every step, he grew.

Now he knew why he had learned to fly.

He had a dream. He fastened his seatbelt, closed

his eyes, and ran down the checklist he’d memorized

so many weeks ago, calmer than

a bell unrung. He felt his fingertips

gently stroking the armrests, heard someone beg

his pardon, stood up to let a woman through

to the window seat. The words he spoke

with her were…

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