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Flight

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In the early stages of epilepsy there
occurs a characteristic dream .... One is
somehow lifted free of one’s own body;
looking back one sees oneself and feels a
sudden, maddening fear; another presence is
entering one’s own person, and there is no
avenue of return.

—George Steiner

Outside my window the wasps
are making their slow circle,
dizzy flights of forage and return,
hovering among azaleas
that bob in a sluggish breeze
this humid, sun-torn morning.

Yesterday my wife held me here
as I thrashed and moaned, her hand
in my foaming mouth, and my son
saw what he was warned he might.

Last night dreams stormed my brain
in thick swirls of shame and fear.
Behind a white garage a locked shed
full of wide-eyed dolls burned,
yellow smoke boiling up in huge clumps
as I watched, feet nailed to the ground.
In dining cars white table cloths
unfolded wings and flew like gulls.
An old German in a green Homburg
sang lieder, Mein Herz ist müde.
In a garden in Pasadena my father
posed in Navy whites while overhead
silver dirigibles moved like great whales.
And in the narrowing tunnel
of the dream’s end I flew down
onto the iron red road
of my grandfather’s farm.
There was a white rail fence.
In the green meadow beyond,
a small boy walked toward me.
His smile was the moon’s rim.
Across his egg-shell eyes
ran scenes from my future life,
and he embraced me like a son
or father or my lost brother.



B. H. Fairchild, “Flight” from The Arrival of the Future. Copyright © 2000 by B. H. Fairchild. Reprinted with the permission of Alice James Books.
Source: The Arrival of the Future (Alice James Books, 2000)

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This poem originally appeared in the October 1984 issue of Poetry magazine

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Flight

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