You may have heard this song before,
A carol to a mournful score,
But you don’t really care for Christmas, do you?
When all you hear is reveille,
The treble of the cavalry,
An old, unspoken psalm, this Hallelujah.
God rest ye merry, gentlemen,
Your soldiers round on Bethlehem;
The angels, they all say they see right through you.
How swift your brothers disappear,
Your sisters' eyes avert in fear,
And in their hearts they stifle Hallelujah.
The columns burn, the fourth, the fifth;
The major falls, the armor lifts,
And finally the foe who near outdrew you.
Your ammunition's shown its worth,
Now maybe there’ll be peace on earth,
Not just this cold and broken Hallelujah.
Maybe there’s a God above,
And maybe all you've known of love
Was when a painted Death knelt down and blew you.
But Cohen sang and Lennon fell;
If there’s a heaven, there’s a hell,
Where all the damned compose their Hallelujahs.
Against the violet sky my Piper Saratoga
banks and shifts, a paltry sparrow
lost in the expanding gloom.
Dimmed in a room below me,
the radar on the Island Airport
circumnavigates the darkness.
Its luminescent arm swings a clockwise
arc across its screen, and pings
the rumor of my existence, up above.
Last month, I stood beneath the wash
of the rainshower, the buzzing of your
Philips razor mixing with the water’s hiss –
love’s wondrous morning ritual,
familiar as coffee, comfortable,
soapy, serene – when I found it.
Two fingers retracing open circles from the
areola, ranging in spirals across soft
tissue, outward like a radar’s sweep.
Like a malign backscatter off my
startled fingertips, a sudden thickening,
unaccustomed, beneath the surface. There.
Two weeks later, at my call-back diagnostic
screening, the radiologist scanned the bright
Nazca lines of my mammograms.
Aerial maps, pinpointing my pain, this
purgatory between parallel plates,
compressing my world, again, again.
Last week, a stereotactic biopsy,
a geologic intrusion into the core,
an aftertremor shattering my broken world.
140 knots, 5000 feet. Rain falls,
the wind shifts, and my aircraft’s wings
drop suddenly on a power-on stall.
If I chose silence, I could ease up,
let the winds wash over these
pallid wings as I fall.
I could close my eyes, let gravity’s distant
wavelength uncoil, and draw this shell
into its tethered, unrelenting pull.
But here, in the momentary silence
of this spin, my heart’s radar reaches out,
probing hope’s dim cavern –
pings the summer of our daughter’s graduation;
pings a showering of rice at her wedding;
pings our grandson’s wavering first steps;
pings him scoring in his first home game;
pings us on the shore at Orchid Beach;
pings you holding me crying in the shower,
that first day, love, as if you’d never let me go;
pings this life, this fragile, precious life –
And I must draw my strength into my hands, haul
resolution’s ailerons back, back – until the curve
is righted, and the wind is stilled, and the
airfield markers part the darkness into stars.