The National Catholic Review

A blizzard, late winter, pulled
the jet down, coaxed it into

 

 


a wilting roll over the frozen fields.
Belly up, its cabin plowed a furrow
half a mile long, then fractured,
open near a stand of trees,

 

 


a farmer’s house and Ploiesti asleep
in the dark. Women, shocked awake,

 

 


lighted lamps to see what sound
shrilled like metal along metal,
that carried human voices
as it fled. They shaded their eyes,

 

 


turning instinctively from the flash.
When morning came with its chaos
of bodies scattered like spring
poppies, what wind had left
behind farmers wandered out
to discover around those brittle black

 

 


trees. A handbag. Sunglasses.
A crystal vase. An Italian shoe beside

 

 


the road. The villagers remember
with calm faces. And of the days to follow,
that burgeoned winter-white, hesitant,
detached—what do they think?

 

 


They resign themselves like a scarf
to the will of the chill and ragged air.

 

 

5 a.m., outside Bucharest, Romania, 1995 

 

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