Monthly Archives: September 2012

The Improbability of Flight

There is something absurd in a jet taking off. Clumsy. Touching, almost. Like watching a swan try to swim backwards.

That first moment when the plane sweeps around, wingtip pointing down or up,  and you check whether you’re falling and you’re not.

Your porthole fills with clouds. Sculpted cirrus fronds. Huge cumulus waves. Moonfluff, raindance, skyscrape.

Through, to the sunswept glacier above, gilded porcelain or ivory. Lilac, grey, and arctic white. It moves of course, silently, and breaks apart.

Nosing down. The jet rips into soft belly, gathers the rain to itself and leaves, leftover cloud trailing like a sigh.

And here is the world. Greyer, is your first thought. And browner, though unchanged really.

Scored with lines, gridded, on second thought. Imagine in the airtower the jet moving like a chess piece, square by square. Blip, blip. Check.

Get some perspective. Down here, all lines travel invariably to a single vanishing point, it’s a matter of calculation, triangulation, and hard data.

Land bound. Auto-pilot on, landing gear out; the mechanical groan, the internal groan. Nearly there.

Touch down. But first that bounce, its sly intimation of anti-gravity, and the urge to leave again, quickly, to fly off before the weight of it is inescapable.

Impossible, after all, to never come back. Land-bound, unchanged really, you check whether you’re falling but you’re not. Clumsy. Touching, almost.