No big city skyline as we flew into JFK;
Ripping cloud and saltmarsh as the wheels skimmed water.
In the sky, passing Faroe, Iceland, Greenland, Labrador
Tracking mind’s progress on in-flight monitor
I foresee a flag blue sky, that visual metaphor for
All Things American. The blurring cloud
Allows my frail landing – unnoticed, backstage;
I halter at the thought and brace my will
For America’s first air, the breathe I seek and fear.
Kennedy’s legacy here and now; a burly guy in
Cats with his icon M. Now driving through Queen’s
Over the arcing bridge of rivets and grace;
The fire that lighted Hart’s word, linking sorrow
Fear, his displaced hopes. I salute you now Brooklyn Bridge.
Under this crust of concrete lies schist, gneiss; rivers find
Their original course, unimpeded. As if America were a
Current of temporality, whispering, irresolute
Here and now, but uncertain. A river of steel
Flows through trees of Adirondack and Seneca
Familiar and new, old yet misunderstood
I blink, seeking patterns beyond and below my
River. This current carrying me on, unseeing.
Stars against a dark night sky, lighting blood and snow;
An old God’s vengeful hand utters forth as
Tattered banners proclaim ‘These Colours Don’t Run’;
‘God Bless America’. I am steeled and stilled by
These oaths. A New World vision through Old World
Eyes; familiar, odd, the same and forever far.
This river carries me through my own time, parallel
And apart from countless souls whose lives
Remain ever dark. Deer cannot cross and eagles wheel, silent
Over ponds, kills and lakes. A river forever finds it way to
The sea. Here, crossed and re-crossed those I feel and never see.
Distant land feels closer; I wear this sky now like a grey cloak.
Through a green tunnel shapes move, merge and fade;
Shield and barrier, my love, wheeling through this
Light, this spray of life, this accented shift, this
Collage of instant image and death. America, nemesis;
A green and fecund place. Appearing now, as giver
Then, crueller. Wounded, suffering we plead for
Grace. Liberty shines dimmer now. A frail and delicate
hand, needed; a gesture heeded, lesser and less.
Giles H. Sutherland