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the day is drizzly with rain
I sit in a fully loaded Boeing
taxiing to the airstrip
for takeoff.

I sit in the middle
by the window
by the wing
by a woman with a fat chin.

rouged faces in
perfumed uniforms
put away the safety equipment
take headcount
and walk the somber catwalk
one last time.

through the wet window
I see another 747
taxing to its gate
lucky them, I think.

I smell fuel
the overhead lights flicker
the air-conditioner makes
funny noises
is that a crack in the window?
I’m on my toes
Discovery Channel scenes
flash by my eyes
cold air brakes on my back
my face turns red
my hands turn sweaty
my stomach cramps
I need a gin and tonic.

now the 747 is lined up
we all are lined up
for takeoff.

nature against man
statistics against fate
me against my furious fear.

the engines kick in roaring
I pull down the sunblind
hundreds of tons thrust forward
my fear flutters in my heart.

the plane roars
I press my feet on the floor
I grab hold of the fat woman’s fat hand
she gives me a side look
I give her a side sorry look back
thousands of roaring horses gallop ahead
my heart gallops in my temples
the Boeing rattles, jolts, rattles
my face is heating to a boil.

I close my eyes
I’m an atheist
help me, god
the horses gallop and roar
with my feet
I work the invisible pedals
the horses gallop, roar, and roar
and leap into the air.

I clench the arm of my seat
the plane is on the tilt
my mind is overwhelmed
we’re air born
the overcast sky welcomes us.

I’m on my way.

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