My brother is a pilot,
Not just any old pilot...
A tail dragger pilot,
Planes made of spars and fabric,
Airframes part wood,
Fuel tanks sloshing in the wings
Either side above our heads,
Set the mags,
Hand crank the prop,
Turn on the fuel,
Hear her pop
And roar to life.
We strap in
And rev 'er up
To join the winds.
He yells, "She's yours!"
And I am piloting,
Or rather gingerly sliding her
About the blue,
Skidding right or left,
Holding my breath,
Wondering how much I dare
To tip her up there in the air.
"I've got the stick!"
He yells, and I let go.
"Don't be afraid to fly it!"
"It's just a machine!"
"Make it do what you want it to do!"
And we are diving toward the ground,
Then bringing her up and tilting 'round.
"Give her fuel when you tilt to turn!"
He demonstrates, and we are standing
On the wing,
Perpendicular and looking to our left and down.
I know he's right,
That I am timid in my flight,
And he is brave with years of joy,
A pilot fearless since he was a boy.
"You want to land?"
I hear him say.
"No, that's alright!"
To prove how safe it is to fly,
He touches down,
Then bounces high,
And vaults us back into the sky.
We flit across the fields,
He flies beneath the power lines,
To show how spray planes catch the ends
He skies the plane at either end,
Then bee lines it to the badlands' edge
Where suddenly we are swooping down
Between the canyon walls, and sinking low,
Then, rising, turning to our right,
He sails us toward sun's dying light.
My only hope is that we will land
Before the night
Erases all our sight.
And sure enough,
The air is calm.
The night is coming on.
Gusting breezes are all gone.
We gently settle once again,
Back at the ranch,
And I help wheel her, then
Into her waiting hangar pen.
Life can be lived all in a panic.
Fear fills us with a lingering dread,
But we should live our lives.
Just like my brother said.
"It's just your life, so make it do
Whatever it is you want it to!