East Hampton Airport is my shepherd.
It was smaller when I took lessons.
The shepherd's crook has high-tech runway lights now.
The shack became a terminal.
The private jets drop by to sleep.
I stand in the afternoon in the open field across the road.
The light planes come in low.
The dog doesn't even look up.
Their wings wave around frantically
Through the valley of the shadow of death.
They touch down calmly and taxi to a stop.
East Hampton Airport is my harbor.
I shall not want.
The harbormaster maketh me to lie down
In green pastures he has paved over.
He leadeth me beside the runway's still waters.
He keeps me in the air so I can land.
I stand in the open field on the far side of Wainscott Road
And watch the summer, autumn, winter sky.
It was my idea to take up flying,
To die doing something safer than motorcycling.
I went up with my instructor not to learn, just to fly.
I stand in the field opposite the airport.
I watch the planes flying in and the planes flying out.
My proud Irish terrier takes pills for his cardiomyopathy.
Before we bark our last,
Our hearts enlarge and burst.
George Plimpton went to bed
And woke up dead.
I write this poem thinking of the painter David Salle
Who wants to make a movie
About the poet Frank O'Hara.
A beach taxi on Fire Island hit Frank and he burst, roll credits.
I remember flying back from Montauk.
I was flying the plane.
The instructor asked me, "Notice anything?"
Yes. The plane was absolutely stuck ---
Speechless --- ecstatically still.
The headwinds were holding us in place in space.
We were flying, but not moving, visibility forever.
The ocean was down there waving.
The engine purred contentment.
I am flying, but not moving.
I stand in a field and stare at the air.--- From Ooga-Booga
©2007 Farrar, Straus, and Giroux