Friday, October 9, 2015

Hugh Hazelton: and so it's happened

and so it’s happened

the rumours and news were erupting
as we took off from Jakarta for Mexico City
no one thought it possible
we were six or seven hours out over the Pacific
when the pilot informed us
we never saw a trail of a missile or flash of a laser
the cries and shrieks and panic in the plane have died down
about twenty passengers were forcibly sedated or tied to their seats
and we’re all somehow accepting that it’s over
the wailing and keening go on but are more muffled now
though every once in a while there’s a scream
the pilot said that North America has probably been obliterated
and that the continent including Mexico has been sealed off
South America wasn’t attacked as badly but communications are dead
and there’s no hope of landing there
Australia was hit because of US bases
all mainland radio and computer connections are gone
so he’s changed course and is flying by map and compass
down to Easter Island, where he hopes we can land
if not he’ll scuttle the plane in the sea
like the submarine sailing off at the end of On the Beach
to sink itself far away in unknown waters
how that terrified me when I was a child
as I asked my parents How could that happen?
no one much cares now, whimpering and sobbing
I know there’s an American satellite aiming station there —
it must have been a laser target —
but so few planes land there that the runway
might be unhit and free unless they’ve barricaded it
on the very chance that planes like ours will land there
just a tiny spot we might survive on
for a while
until the poisons get to us
how odd the plane can still function for ten more hours
pressurized and comfortable, with our movie screens still working
until the fuel runs out
and how strange to think of heading for Easter Island
the Kon-Tiki land of Thor Heyerdahl that I always wanted to visit
and find out if their ancestors had also come from Peru
Rapa Nui, the Navel of the World,
though everyone’s home is the Navel of the World
at the Navel was I nourished and to the Navel I will return
those moai have been staring inland for centuries
their backs to the infinite sea
and the volcanic empty eyes
of the lonely seven who gaze out at the horizon
waiting for us to arrive for this to happen
wasn’t there a story by a Chilean friend or someone I once heard
about a military plane flying out from Valparaíso after the coup
with prisoners on board
who were told they were being taken to Easter Island
looking out the windows at the sunlight over the Pacific
with their hands and feet tied but their eyes not blindfolded
because what did it matter
hoping their captors weren’t lying but knowing they were
and that the plane would finally slow and bank, the cargo door would be pulled open
and they’d be pushed out into that same sunlit air
over the endless sea
Easter Island
where the trees were cut down the animals killed the ecology collapsed
and when there was no more wood
the Polynesians forgot how to build their trimarans to go back or on to anywhere
or even fish offshore
and were stuck forever
micro-civilizations rising and falling
until minuscule civil wars over what was left broke out between clans and families
hiding in caves until the population had almost died out
and then the slave ships arrived
the island that survived its own miniature apocalypse
now our last place of refuge
Easter Island
place of myth
and resurrection
the perfect romantic place for us to wither and die
roll the stone away and let us enter
but like those prisoners on the military plane
I know you won’t
because you won’t want more people landing
refugees from a dying planet
strangers once again
eating your precious food
when we fly in low with our wheels down
you’ll surely have blockaded your solitary runway
and we’ll be forced to bank over your volcanic loneliness
and crash into the Southern Sea
with that same sunlight glimmering
over fingers of wind rippling the surface
through wisps of cloud
in the blue depth

Hugh Hazelton is a writer and translator who lives in Montreal. His fourth book of poetry, Antimatter, was reprinted with CD by Broken Jaw Press in 2010; a Spanish version came out with Split Quotation/La Cita Trunca in 2009. He performs his poems in several languages and believes that poetry should bite, caress, stroke, laugh at, confront, lament, name, imagine, envision, remember, invoke, oppose, and reflect.

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