I want to fly in the black box; sometimes I want to live in the black box.
The ones they keep on airplanes, the ones that are always found, always
safe. Last week a small plane went down south of town. There was footage
of wreckage, and the ages of the dead. It always looks like the same small
plane, the crumpled toy in a forest. There is steam from the downed plane,
or is it mist? Mist in the same anonymous landscape, pines or elms or ash,
with the carnage long gone. Then they talk about the black box and
uncertain circumstances. Nothing was reported. Communication stopped. A
missing blip on a computer screen means people are dead on the ground.
Sometimes the plane, if small, private, will not show up where it was
supposed to land. Two days later, a woman will miss a business class, a man
will miss a reunion. And almost immediately talk turns to the black box,
that inviolable space with the last words, words streaming in as the plane
was screaming down. And I think: if only they had been in the black box
they would be safe now, they would have been saved. And I think: let the
words lie crumpled on the ground, let the words be the ones who can't get
out. And let them lead the saved out of the box, freed into life by the
giant key kept only by agents from the agency. The lid is open, and there
they are: aged forty-two, and twenty-seven, and nine, from Dayton, from
Poughkeepsie, from Encino, smiling and shaking their heads that we could
invent such a miraculous box. And how nice that the boxes have become so
available, too, so affordable: for the car, the boat, the home. The black
box can always be found, and we are always in it, and always safe, and we
come out explaining; we know why things happened, we know we'll fly again.