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THE NAVIGATOR, by Janice L. Decker.
It's all a cleansing heat: hot
Oil, hot metal, hot air, hot sands
Scrubbing at my wetware,
Scouring me of all things non-essential --
I'm streamlined, ready to go at a
Moment's notice: anywhere, any time.
I recall a wartime night: we're streaking past
A half-remembered half/moon, our bombs slung low
Below us. The moon is brimmed with pale white
Ambered honey, flying beside me, beckoning to me,
Seeming to never move -- I couldn't tear my eyes away.
I think of how I must have looked just then:
A madman in a plastic bowl, a face defined
By lines of red and green electric numbers,
A phantom, really. I didn't know her then but now
I wonder: would she have recognized me?
My art is old, is ancient, is of
Astrolabes and azimuths and vectors and dark
Disappearing points on the horizon.
Me in my steel rocket, no creaking wooden ship,
I sail the seas in any case, plotting, curving,
Chasing up/behind/above our clever missiles.
Her art is ancient too: a mapping out
Of places in the heart. The craven have two hearts,
She says, the brave fly by on one.
I think of that unguarded woman's
Honeyed voice, her striving movements as she
Raises up her arms, as if to fly.
She moves uncharted -- she's in
Need of navigation, while I chart a course that takes me...where?
I whisper out her name sometimes, inside my helmet,
Inside my cockpit where nobody else can hear.
I walk across the tarmac toward my plane while
All around the big jet engines moan and screech,
Hiss and thunder, and I tingle with a clarity
For I am certain in that moment --
Just as it's been plotted --