Her Mission of Light
Buntin, Simmons B.
Seven months after the death of my mother,
the pregnant C-130s circling the air base
remind me how, when she was nine,
the Swedish girl they called matchstick legs
(who could sprint the sandy length
of seaside lane in record time) first heard
and then saw the Nazi bombers
in their razor-tight formations scraping
the low chin of the horizon, en route
to Norway and dark England beyond.
She too passed like a recondite
mission, whispering from 17,000 feet,
a near-anonymous entry into the endless log
of the world’s migrations. Sixty-one years
later, I take the vacant road past
the base’s back gate, along the brilliantly
destructive rows of F-4s and A-10s,
with their own secret missions to
Vietnam and Bosnia and Iraq, places
she could have lived in her 1950s
migration to America—places like the vast
and abundant plains of Rhodesia or
the rich golden avenues of Naples and Rome.
The street here is not glowing, nor
full of life. But it leads to the blue
hills beyond the river, and from there
the pink cliffs of the Santa Catalinas—
and sometimes, as now, the light off a curving
wing catches and holds the mountains and clouds
and, higher still, a vapor trail to the heavens.
Copyright Simmons B. Buntin 2007