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No rest on the flight

This poem does not follow any prompt. I was reading an article in the Millions, yesterday, about Peter Porter and had got down his The Rest on the Flight: Selected Poems to look up a couple of the poems referenced. The title had been staring at me for a while. I assumed ‘The Rest on the Flight’ referred to the rest that the holy family took on their flight into Egypt and away from Herod the Great (see this Wikipedia article)(yes, I am a militant atheist, but the myths of Christianity fascinate me).

Before looking up Porter’s poem, the title sparked an idea for one of my own, about being unable to rest on the flights to and from Australia that I’ve made in the past. On reading the poem, it turns out Porter had much the same idea, but I had already started mine and it was fairly different so I finished it.

It struck me that Porter might have made the same flight as me, perhaps even sat in the same seat as me, and felt the same boredom and fear. I think he made a lot better use of the experience, though. But the connection still made me shiver.


No rest on the flight

Mid flight, mid sky, constrained by all the
customs of dark but sleep. Fruit and water
are proffered by soft footed stewards sliding by,
lesser angels of a common god.
In that dank cave of animal instinct
we surrender to the roar without
and the awe within. This stanza of our
voyage is the one with hopes and dreams.
Prayer-like, we posit a future this
pale projectile will deliver us unto
and buttress a mechanistic faith with
animistic devotions. The sound subsumes
thought, slows it to a mach fraction — lulls
and gentles fear. Others will write the
final lines; we can but affirm them.