He dreams of flying
a single engine Piper Cub
over the Sierra, down the coast
of Baja California. When he was
dying of starvation in the stalag,
he imagined soaring into the bleak
reality of bailing out, shot down, hanging
in a bare tree, waiting to be discovered.
Now that he is 88 years old and close
again to dying, he’s thinking of renewing
his pilot’s license. It’s what he misses most,
what he has to dream of nightly,
strapped in the cockpit, taking off
on instruments alone into the fog.
It might have been a trunk of doubloons
Or the rictus of the Jolly Roger.
How the waves sometimes skipped a beat
Then walloped the ship broadside.
Or a rascal was keelhauled. It might have been
The dream of being marooned
On an island called Eden where huge fruits
Dropped from trees full of rich juices
And we did nothing but love.
That kind of treasure is what lures the soul
To be shanghaied after a drunken soiree
And wake up retching on the slick planks
While high in the rigging, a cry goes up
Sighting the shore where the map
Can be deciphered and the bones picked clean.