John Kinsella

This morning, driving, I watched
a small single-engine plane
fly over treetops: it was pretty close,
azimuth about 20 degrees,
not close enough to see the pilot,
but close enough: how close
to the trees I can’t be sure,
though I could drive some time
to the line of its flight as cut to the ground
by high noon and work it out—
I noted a certain kind of tree—
a silver ash—scarifying
its flight path, scratching with its still
foliating branches, to mark the exact point
of arrival and departure, and I know the exact
point I first noticed it, and the point
of my closest approach: I could do the math,
I could work it out, making use
of that line I drew through the windscreen,
the precise angle, precise distance,
cast the triangulation of its risk-taking,
probable law-breaking, flying
close to the tree-tops in light rain.
In retrospect, it wasn’t the threat
that captured my attention: it was the vicarious,
the sense of being there next to that pilot
I couldn’t distinguish, and forgetting
the unnatural flight of metal carapace,
the drive of the air-screw
against bad weather: skating
tree-tops ready to tip over,
to hook new growth and plunge
below a horizon
not forced but chosen.