|Somewhere Over the Atlantic (M.A. Reilly, 2016)|
38,000 feet below thick clouds that have severely roughened the air flight, the ocean is concealed. I imagine it nonetheless--the strong Atlantic moving, waves rising, cresting, and falling like a wild sea serpent plunging down and then resurfacing again and again. In the ocean, everything flows along currents to find beaches I cannot see, cannot name. There's an order to be appreciated.
Here lost among clouds that stretch like ghostly fingers across a coming dawn, I watch as if the shift in clouds might reveal you. I tell you twelve years of Catholic school taught me that heaven was largely a skyward business and I wonder if this is where you have come to rest, come to be.
And so I look for you among the ephemeral bits of fluff, but instead I see the head of a cow, perhaps a moo cow coming down the road for we may well be over Ireland and these clouds give way to a gnarly old man who seems befuddled, hunched over a cane. And then there is nothing. Just like the clouds Berndnaut Smilde captures with his camera.
Here and then gone.
Here and then gone.
Cloud interpretation is largely a geometry of faith--a language I cannot decipher. But even so, there is a simple joy that fills me as I stare out the window of this mostly silent airplane, winging east to Paris. We are less than 2 hours from landing.
I'm reminded that 17 years ago we tried to come here, somewhat keen on imbibing that old cliche of love. Paris in April. But instead we took those dollars and some more and paid for Devon's adoption--a surprise after so many months of waiting. We never made it to Paris, saying we would come here one day, just the two of us. We thought we had such time for who would know that a month after our son turned 17 you would be dead?
Death is thick in Paris. I had forgotten how in Europe everywhere most everyone seems to be smoking. This is true for Paris as well. Young and old. I look and want to say, "Save your lives." I look at the young ones and recall you telling the oncologist that you smoked from when you were a teen until you turned 27. I look at the three young girls all puffing away until I must turn away and as I do I notice another group of three at a table nearby--all of whom are men and heavy smokers--all much older than you and I wonder how much of lung cancer is an unfortunate matter of genes. Your father died from lung cancer too.
Dev and I are here in Paris, Rob and there's a certain solace I find present talking to you tonight knowing somehow that this digital impulse will find its way to you. Someone and I am sorry to say I have forgotten who said that there would come a time when I would be able to not only bare talking with you again, but revel in it.
3600 miles through roughened air I have come to learn a truth.