At twenty thousand feet—the earth below was overcast—
the top of the cloud was like a desert flat lightly dusted with snow
and I at the sunny porthole agreed to be resigned
as in a bright hospital where they would feed me well,
but like one peacefully dying rather than convalescent
The blue sky was immense to its skim-milky horizon
and the sun glorious as if awash and wet
with its light I stared at hungrily with my own streaming eyes.
Then were my cares for my sick country quieted
though not forgotten, and the unhappy loneliness
In which I ever live was quieted.
Dimly I briefly saw below the wide meandering
among the Blue Ridge Mountains Shenandoah River
and again! one friendly sparkle from a wave
like a signal to me leaped across four miles of space
saying “God! God!” or “Man! Man!” or “Death!”
or whatever it was, very pleasantly.

This Issue

December 26, 1963