XII war plane

Vietnam XIII

The plane in pieces raining down
thy kingdom come
the flyers, nothing more to fly in, fall.

Then our ship turning in the fog
searching the small black waves around.

Out of the weather in the hangar bay
I stoop to the debris.
The ruined gear gives back
a warmed, rank smell of sea.

Wing flap with flak holes
Orange, buoyant seat pads
Crushed helmet with fittings torn away

Lacking its head, the helmet
is him here, the man I didn't meet,
whom I may not have liked,
who may have said Jesus in surprise
when the world bucked and let him through.

John Barr / from The Hundred Fathom Curve

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