The ground recedes beneath me
As I rise on fabric wings;
My widening horizon brings
The sight of Earth unstitched,
Its ulcerated viscera revealed
Between the sundered seams
Of jagged trench lines far below.

Above, a sky of purest cobalt hue
Brings cleansing prayer
And so a state of grace.
I wheel amidst the climbing towers
Of cumulus, which roll and spiral skyward
In an avalanche of fog and dew.
The clouds and I defy the laws
Of Galileo, Newton,
Yes, of gravity itself,
While vindicating
Leonardo’s visions.

I race the clouds
To touch the dome of blue,
At 20,000 feet the clouds
Rise faster now than me
Through air too thin for wings to hold
Or engine breathe;
Too little oxygen for brain,
I roar with giddy joy,
I soar through mighty canyons,
Chase my rainbow shadow,
Climb again.

I burst from cliff of cloud
Three dizzying miles or more
From base to peak.
I bank and see the Earth below
In shadow, dark as night,
Where cloud-base
Sweeps across the broken land
With weeping sheets of rain,
Like tears of angels,
Or of sorrowing gods,
All helpless as the heavens above
To halt the Hell on Earth below,
Where misery of mud and blood,
And sudden death which Goddess Fate
(Such fickle and disinterested mistress)
Paints in careless strokes of flaming red
Across the pulsing canvas of the Front.

Up here, amongst the hallways of the gods,
No trireme ever flew on flashing wings
As I do now, in climbing, spiral turns,
Around the softest marble white
Of cloud, then launch
Into the clear Aegean blue.
My Sopwith Camel
Spins down tumbling valleys,
Climbs towards the sun,
Weaving joy-spun threads
Of air and speed and noise and light
To make an awe-tinged tapestry of flight,
Which Earth-bound man has
Never known ‘til now except in dreams,
And lifts my heart
Into the realm of angels.

© Richard Lindsay 2015