The pilot thinks for a moment high in the sky as an engine sputters of where he might land, of how perhaps it might be in a field near cows and a river, how it might be into a city almost to be lost in the hum of traffic and commerce, perhaps onto a family settling to a dinner at the table.
The sky is a cruel pristine blue. The few high clouds waft above him like serene atmospheric jellyfish.
The sun is honey. The engine is dying. He is 23. He has a name of so many letters and syllables. He has hair of a certain cut under his helmet. His eyes were described in affectionate adjectives by many who knew him. His personality was written of by 3 people he never knew in bad poems written in the years after high school after he passed or spent an evening with them in crowds of acquaintances. He is seeing the ground now as a mouth, the sky letting go of things like elevation, ballast, inertia and the invisible arrow of a prescribed path. He is falling now, just a bit but losing altitude in the blue.
The plane was a certain make, the initial long dead innovator a man with huge sad eyes who died young. The company was led by his ignorant boorish brother as inherited , a giant hand me down, a gift to cherish or destroy. The brother has been cutting corners, paying off investigators, burning great piles of paper to make the words disappear. He is not alone in these pursuits of course, but others did it to also kill ideas, beliefs, dissenting voices, to erase people, histories and even complete points of view, he sees it as just saving himself from prison. He is currently riding in a long open convertible a continent and 4 weather systems away from the young pilot with the name given by loving parents, the one now facing death in clear skies, a few cut corners currently strangling an engine above towns and farms.
The tiny jellyfish clouds drop icy high rains never to reach the earth. Some call them “mare’s tails” like the gorgeous long tails of horses in full gallop. Ordinarily they would be quiet beauty, galleries to die eventually, wind and water and ice and then to evaporate somewhere far away. At this moment they are stark metaphors, ice sketches of another free fall, of things giving in to gravity, falling away eventually from parts to nothing. The engine stops now. Silence from whir. Sculpture from machine. The wing now holds a circular abstract art piece of metal where a moment before was a piece of the whole of this metal bird.
The brother of the inventor eats a huge bite of a turkey sandwich now in a big city , the extra mayo falling onto his expensive and imported yet stained and wrinkled shirt like the falling waste from sea gulls and pigeons. His driver notices this as he glances in the rear view mirror to lurch the huge gas wasting car into the next lane on the turnpike but as usual, as instructed, says nothing. No words. Just drive. His mouth, briefly agape, is also for a few seconds, a kind of sculpture, a cave with no sound, a form then to close away again, the reaction to live a short life and die unrecognized, just form then nothing.
The pilot with a face some called handsome, with a secret wish now to never be told, a secret burning in him to reveal to now fade as though never born, with that life plan that seemed earlier to still stretch out as unborn vistas ahead as though clear in flightpath, with now mouth also agape like that driver thousands of miles away, is warily eying the ground rushing up now with great speed, the way of rapids in rivers but vertical and quieter rush. Death was so far, that impossible aged end he joked about with friends at 17, so far as the peaceful demise he spoke of at that party at 22 when he though he was in love for the distance this time and had life figured out, decoded like some mystery in an old film. Now it is stark. Simple. Ground rushing up. Broken metal bird. Mass and weight not aerodynamics and destination. It strikes him how it is now as though the globe, no the very universe was seconds, patches of green and scattered buildings, nothing more.
The mayo rains down on the shirt imported by assistants from Paris, the glop hitting and impacts shooting goopy fragments up briefly on impact. The shirt takes it like the ground takes disaster, like how time absorbs some of the shock of tragedy, the flying bits the ways of chaos, of disorder, a sort of physical architecture instantaneous of loss and grief. The greedy buffoon just takes his next bite, the next storm sent down to the silk, this time near the pocket. The light breeze of the gaudy open car musses slightly his hair as the car cuts off a group of nuns out vacationing, honks at an elderly man just cruising after recovering from another stroke, the drive to just take in an afternoon like how a straw can give sips from a great bottle and drink. The driver does not wish to do these things, has to do what he is told. The car is still yet to cut off that family with a near miss, to force onto the shoulder 3 different couples out for drives to the beach.
The pilot’s mind hurls a random last oddball thought. He had read as a kid about a supposed test where people held cards to their skin. The mad doctor swore that since the eye at early development was just another cell, a dot of the blot of self, a bit of the confetti and soup that would later be given a name, that this meant that any cell, any part of the body could vaguely, incompletely “see”. The odd old yellowed book said that for a few it actually worked, arms knowing the number 4 on a card, a cheek seeing “she” in a vague blur enough for the mouth to report it. He thought this as the ground hurtled upward at him , as though gravity had reversed, as though it was breaking its bonds and rushing out to some mutant freedom within the pin point stars of space. He thinks briefly of how his whole body could be “eyes” watching his end.
Nobody would know. It will be like I never saw a thing at all
Peacocks. They raise up feathers with those circles on them like a hundred false eyes to try to speak without words.
The plane is now a gallery of things, a hall of metal and glass and numbers and a man with a name, with some human ballast since birth, that odd wheel-less inertia of life in most general terms. He knows that the last thought has no great meaning, it has just kind of appeared, existed , and now is to die.
The oafish brother eats a last great bite of an overstuffed sandwich a continent away never to know that it was the precise 8 letters of his birth given name in smeary blue pen on some crinkled form from a stack on his inherited desk and job that was about to erase another’s name but to memory and the grave. The mayo again splurts downward , the extravagant bite delicious, so what life is about to him, the moment, the taste of things of the world, the splurting mayo taking a second to hit the black silk shirt just as 4 thousand miles away a plane his brother would have never approved hit a dry riverbed and blew into a hundred pieces under a brilliant blue sky.
I can see with only two eyes not a thousand.
The sun shines cruel golden honey on the wreck. Oblivious, high clouds slowly move eastward still dropping the same icy rain called “Mare’s Tails” like the grand horses running free along fields. The rain will just fall, seemingly endlessly to never reach anywhere on Earth.
A continent away a man throws the last bite of a sandwich into traffic and takes a nap, curled up in the back of his obscenely huge convertible like an over-sized baby.