254. Greeting

Their hands dropped.
The hum of the propeller
Died away.
Wheels rolled to a stop.
The wind lulled, slow.

In the silence
Two slim figures rose,
Hoisting themselves from cockpit
To the ground.
The two were dressed
The same, in bulky
Leather suits that flared
Like riding habits. Tugging
Off their goggles and
Soft leather helmets,
They shook their heads free.
The man, tall and gangly,
Wavy hair, uncertain smile….
That face….
The woman, ruddy,
Bright-eyed, and at ease.
She stretched.
That face: the man,
The woman–those
Around stood stock-still, not
Daring the name.

As if by accord,
Odell stepped forward.
His shoes crunched dust
As he walked, solemn
As a high school graduation,
Down the line of cars
Up to the plane.
They shook hands, all around;
Odell bowed.
They talked–
The rumor would recount it later,
And witnesses
Who claimed to overhear,
The topic was the weather:
Wind velocity
West to New Mexico.

While they spoke,
The dust thinned overhead.
The gales fell back,
As they would sometimes do.
And then it came:
The curious occurrence.
Sunlight, weak, steeped
Through the choking air–
In a blink,
The earth turned blue.
Their hands before their eyes
Shone iris-blue;
Each other’s faces, vivid,
Blue, and all their clothes.
They looked up to the plane.
Its silver wings
Now shone blue as the Gulf.
Their scratched black cars
Threw off a bluish glow.
The trampled ground
Had lost its dirty color,
Flooded blue.
Every thing they touched,
And all they saw,
Wavered in blue
Like the cinema.
Captured in light,
The fliers, wrapped
In rumpled jackets, swam
In haze and mildly
Overlooked the scene.

It left
As quickly as it came.
The earth was brown.
Standing by their wings,
The two held fingers up
To gauge the wind.
Odell recalled himself,
And shook their hands
For one last time.
They clambered in the plane.
Its engine revved.
Both raised arms in salute
And waved goodbye.
The men, who had stood silently,
Respectfully waved back.
The plane took off
Along their makeshift runway.
They turned then to their cars:
The hum was gone.

The blue, they’d never
Speak of.
Headed home.

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