Saturday, April 19, 2014

Flight 370

Imagine if you can, on this the sad first
Anniversary of the Boston Marathon  bombing,
That you were one of the passengers,
Numbering 227 according to Malaysia Airlines,
On the doomed Flight 370,
Flying in a sleek Boeing 777, with robin-egg blue wings
In the middle of the night, on  March 18, 2014,
Flying from the  capital Kuala Lumpur,
To Beijing, some 2700 hundred miles away.

Imagine you were young or old,
Male or female, mostly of Chinese
Or of Malaysian descent,
Or one of  the contingent of Indians
Or one of the couple of Ukrainians,
Or  the 51-year-old IBM executive
From the Dallas-Fort Worth area,
From which he’d just returned
After visiting his ex- and two sons,
And was  returning to  Beijing,
To take care of some unfinished business.
He’d spent the last two years in Beijing
Before being transferred to Kuala Lumpur,
The last career move he’d ever make,
Or that you are one of the teen-age couple,
She Asian and beautiful, he European
And doting hopelessly on her,
Who are returning to school in France
From  a vacation on a travel poster beach
Where their footprints in the sand lead
To a sanctuary  in the dunes where they lie on their backs
Looking up at the  blue sky and dissolving  vapor trail
Of a jet that is too high for itself to be seen,
As if it was  disappearing into eternity.

Or imagine you were one of the twenty
Younger Chinese and Malaysian employees
Of an Austin-based semi-conductor company
With an assembly and test-plant in Tianjin.
Or if semi-conductors are not your thing,
Imagine you are the Hollywood stunt man,
Chinese, of course, like Bruce Lee,
Flying to Beijing to see his two kids
Before he flies  back to Malaysia
To film the Netflix series “Marco Polo.”
Or you are the Siberian diving instructor,
Also the father of two kids, on his way home
From a trip to Bali, Indonesia, back to  Irkutsk, in Siberia,
Where he was a member of a  tight-knit Jewish community.
Or imagine you are the pregnant passenger,
Or the one recovering from a miscarriage,
Or that you are the four-year-old sister,
Or her two-year-old brother, the youngest on board.
They were born in America, but their last name was Chinese,
But their first names were  Nicole and Leo.
Or imagine you are the second-oldest passenger,
A 76-year-old Chinese man who has survived
A truck collision, political persecution, and three heart attacks.
He  was one of  the artistic contingent of twenty,
Who were returning from an art exhibit in Kuala Lumpur.
Among the twenty  was an unemployed factory worker
Who managed to save enough to learn calligraphy.

Or imagine you were one of the two younger men
Who were returning to China to visit dying fathers,
Or one of the two older couples who were expecting
Soon to become grandparents, or the young couple
Who had just celebrated their first wedding anniversary,
Or the Indian microbiologist who was flying for the first time
Along with her retired husband and youngest son
Who were on their way  to Beijing to attend the graduation
Of her oldest son, with a degree in engineering,
Or imagine you are  the 29-year-old Iranian
Who  was traveling to Germany illegally,
With a stolen passport, seeking asylum, hoping
To be reunited with his mother, already there.

Imagine that you were any of these passengers one hour
Into  the flight when the plane lost contact
With air traffic control  and disappeared from radar
For the next next seven hours,  or so
The authorities speculated, and flew toward
The South China Sea, or the Indian Ocean,
Or  god only knows where it went down
At sometime not long after dawn
When the plane finally ran out of gas,
Following what some will  believe was God’s will,
And others that a fanatic among the passengers
Or crew felt they were following God’s will
In prolonging the terror  as long as possible,
And mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers,
Young and the old, right-brained and left-brained
The artistically  talented and technically inclined,
The well-to-do and the barely making it,
The happy and the unhappy, the well and the ill,
Chinese, Malaysians, Indians, Indonesians,
And a quotient  of Caucasians,
Somebody’s  near and dear loved ones
Or distant and now dead relatives,
Reminding  us of the terrible things that can happen
To ordinary people, members of our species,
Enduring the  boredom or the frustration,
The divorces, deaths, and diseases
Of their quotidian existence
But suddenly lifted by technology
Along with the 450 ton aircraft  with robin-egg blue wings,
Astonishingly 36,000  feet up in the air,
Cruising at 570 miles an hour
And  held hostage  by an insane person or persons,
Drunk on god and religion, with messianic delusions,
Just as millions of brainwashed believers
Belonging to three crazy, competing teams
That are all in the same  crazy  league,
Playing with  weapons of mass destruction,
Holding humanity at large hostage
As  planet earth speeds around the sun
At  67,000  thousand miles  an hour.

Imagine if you can that technology is a pact
With the devil who is monitoring our smart phones
And running in-flight movies in our minds
While  annihilation approaches exponentially
Until  we are like the passengers on Flight 370,
Whom we never knew but  have already forgotten—
The old artist who survived three heart attacks,
Little Leo who has not yet learned to count,
The  passengers who are flying for the first time
The teenagers on their backs, looking up at the blue sky,
The unemployed worker who learned calligraphy,
And  the 42-year-old  woman whose birthday it was,
Who will never have to play the numbers game again.

                                                Robert Forrey,  April 2014