WHEN THE AIRPLANE STOPPED
When father's airplane stopped
and we were mid‑air,
the little yellow cub continued riding
along on chilly emptiness
like a boat in a stream.
Not a heavy thing at all,
it seemed a toy plane
of paper and balsa wood
tossed up with no rider
but the painted outline
of a soldier, his helmet
and goggles classic, his head
bent to the controls.
Father coughed and grinned
to a grimace, and I said, "Anything wrong?"
"Damn thing went off," he answered.
The bay looked long and blue and beautiful
against the sand spit;
the air was also blue, and chilly.
"Ice," said father,
"in the carburetor."
And still we floated
in that nothingness,
with nothing to fear,
the nothing under us.
And father fiddled with the starter
as the ailerons rowed space
and then before we'd really lost
much altitude, maybe none, maybe
we even gained some,
the engine started and father smiled
and said, "I could land
this plane anywhere, engine or not:
a jetty, a dune, a country
highway. I could have taken it down."
The little plane coasted
along on its rutrutrut of an engine
till we landed where mother sat
in the car at the railing,
and, "What were you doing up there?"
she asked us. "It looked funny."
“When the Airplane Stopped” first appeared in Hubbub.
Published in Driving One Hundred (Windfall Press, 2009).