inside the water, blue advancing
bluer into brighter blue—
although my unbelieving brother held his hands
over his face. And you,
Professor Pagels, would you not have seen,
reflected in my eyes,
the unresisted pull into the perfect heart
of orange light, the last surprise
of pure acceptance that can never pass
beyond itself? I guess
the gas ran back into the engine,
for we leveled out, and, yes,
terror returned the instant we touched down,
and my taut body knew
that I was safe there in my brother's arms.
Next morning my whole chest was bruised
where I had clutched myself, and one week later,
back in the old river town
by the abandoned mill, we learned my pilot's plane
had crashed in the dense mountain
flying home. "Don't know how Joel lasted
long's he did," his neighbor said.
We sat, a covenant of brothers by the fire,
And yet the orange-red,
the green-blue flames distracted me; I watched
the sizzling rainbow trout that night,
its smeared red stripe surrounded by black dots—
collapsed suns lost in their trapped light.
—Robert Pack, 1989
Excerpted from Fathering the Map: New and Selected Later Poems (University of Chicago Press, 1993). Reprinted by permission of the author. All rights reserved.
Home page image: "Wegbereiter Ikarus," print, woodblock on paper, by Wilhelm Geissler, 1966. (Courtesy NASM)