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Sep 2012
I was...

encased in a silver humming tube
shooting through blue sky and soft clouds

the attendant (my daughter’s age) stood
thin knuckles gripping the seat in front of me
whiter than clouds zipping past the window
her doe eyes transfixed on the men
praying with each shallow breath
they would ask nothing of her

some spoke English, some gibberish
waving their razors in ominous dance
slicing the air that carried their words

a pilot at their feet,
a thin red trail, a single line
the only biography he had
written on the cabin carpet
between the cockpit and
where they stood
barking at us, punctuating their orders with prayer and praise
to some God I did not know

“Al lah, A lah…”
more threatening chants
“Allah, Al lah”
more—a shrill scream interrupted this dream
as one yanked an attendant to his side—more venomous words
flying at us like poisoned arrows
(but all of us too frozen to move as these flew through pressurized air)
“please” the only word she uttered before she froze
eternally in the arms of her ****** assassin

the lump in my throat fell, I leaned forward and others did too
(I never saw, but surely they did)
trying to think through the hateful haze
to younger days
how to disarm an assailant—they had to teach me that
I had to remember that—we did that for our beret
but I couldn’t reach back
not further than that morning
when I said good bye to my son

still (“Al lah, Ah lah”—ripping anger from their guts)
I thought, I can do something

the attendant beside me, tears now flowing from lost eyes
(whose smooth blond hair now even looked like my daughter’s)
backed up, her trembling hand brushing my shoulder
(did I think, the last human touch for her, for me?)
my hands grabbed her fingers and I squeezed them gently
(just as I had my own child when I left her side at the altar—
did I say the same words, “Be happy, you deserve it...I love you”)
she looked at me, raindrop tears now instead of fears
we smiled faintly as I pulled her to my seat and rose to my feet

outside the windows
gray square stones now filled the air
blocking the morning sky
where are the clouds I thought…
but only for a second
we
are
not
hostages
we are…going to…

I did not feel the cabin floor as I moved towards the miscreant crew
between me and the cockpit door
I was young, light and agile again, sailing at them
their words no longer calling for their god
but now they spoke in direct command,
nothing of some promised land, but
“STOP OR WE WILL…”
we will…what?
Could I have laughed at the irony…
or we will what?

another now with me, no older than my son
(and looked like he as well)
headed down the aisle
towards men now racing to meet us
four against two
but somehow I knew we would never meet

the lump was in my throat again, my clenched fists relaxed
my own teary eyes turned to the windows, away from the maddening screams
and between endless glass, steel, and stone
I got a glimpse of pure blue sky
last night CNN had a special about 9/11--reminded me of this narrative written on the 5th or 6th anniversary of the event
spysgrandson
Written by
spysgrandson
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   James Bradley McCallum, ---, --- and ---
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