poetry, Travel, Wordsmith Studio

A Poem of Preparation

Airliner in danger-Gettyimages.com
Airliner in danger-Gettyimages.com

Can you prepare for possible  death? 

In the gap between the “heads up, you may die,” and your actual departure much goes on with the mind, body, and soul.

Heavy stuff, I know, but I began thinking of this when I read that the weekly writing prompt, over on Wordsmith Studio, is “Preparation.” 

I immediately thought of a trip my mother and I took to Paris several months ago.  We boarded a plane from LAX to Washington D.C and changed planes to proceed to France. We had several rocky minutes, bouncing up and down, before the Captain’s voice erupted loud and clear over the microphone.

I began jotting words in my travel journal.

The second time the Captain spoke is when I, and probably everyone else on that plane, experienced our own preparation. My first thought was to pray through the apprehension around me. My mother and I linked hands.

This is Your Captain

“We are having mechanical difficulties.”

Headphones off,

passengers alert,

mechanical difficulties?

The video screen shows a map of the east coast,

Atlantic Ocean and Europe.

The tiny plane marker is a quarter of the way over the Atlantic

on the USA side

Shivers and shakes mark the minutes

Turbulence grows strong,

“Due to these difficulties we are adjusting our plans…”

speaker crackle, then silence

“We are redirecting to Washington Dulles airport..”

several murmurs, what’s, why’s

“Redirecting is necessary, we are over the ocean,

too much space to cross..”

people stand, anxiety floats,  babies wake

zippers open, purses readjust, whispers abound

The plane tilts to the left,

breath catches in throat,

Another dip, a rumble,

tremors beneath our collective feet.

“Please…oh no…”

fingers grip seat arms,

our bodies shift to attention

to appease the quaking thunder
“Crew take your seats,” the pilots voice is strong,

direct, like a father saying “Kid’s stop it.”

Passengers glare, foreheads pull down,

lips squeeze over tight teeth.

The plane dips,

a roller coaster for half a second,

“oh…ahh…shit… no,”

escape from parted lips no longer pink

gasps that feed fear fill the air,

babies cry.

We returned safely to Dulles, went through hours of rescheduling while listening to rude passengers yelling to the customer service agents about the delay and the fact that we had to stay in a hotel overnight.

I didn’t like it either, but compared to what could have happened I was easy-peasy.  My mom sat in her wheelchair and dozed while I took care of business.

I’m certain she was still praying.

11 thoughts on “A Poem of Preparation”

  1. I love your story. I re-lived a similar incident while reading it. When the plane suddenly dipped, lightening flashing on the wings…prepared to die, I closed my eyes and said to myself “Here I go!” What a surprise when we all survived….touching down was a slight disappointment. I knew then I had no fear of death. I think it has to do with my experience surviving cancer surgeries…I made myself ready then. Life is a trip!


    1. You know I thought of my cancer too, like “I survived cancer so I could crash into an ocean?!” But as you say, life is a trip.
      BTW, I was supposed to go visit my daughter in Denver for her birthday today and Frontier cancelled the flight due to snow. Better to cancel before I got up in the air!


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