Now he flies nightly with purpose,
jets up high enough to get
a good view of the whole parish,
the struggling farms and derricks
newly pumping, the dry ditches,
and the dirt roads, bumpy at best.
There's a crack in a septic tank
in the northwesterly district,
the Weston ranch, he thinks. Hard pressed
to patch it up in secret, he does so
nonetheless -- this year's low water table
mustn't entirely perish. Done; no
seeping waste will tarnish the wells
in this region of his country. Still,
he has to be as anonymous
here as he is everywhere else. None
can know of all his daring-do;
that he has foiled heists in Milwaukee,
extinguished tenements in Boston,
victims of arson, and forests
in Oregon, where lightning sparked them;
nor that he has stayed collisions of boats
afloat on the Okee-Fenokee,
snatched burglars from their Roanoke sprees;
nor even that he saved a cat
that was caught in that Brooklyn tree.
No, despite his garb (so garish)
he has done all this silently.
Someday Clark may fly in the daylight,
when men can view the El crest
ablaze, yellow and red on his blue chest,
and, amazed at the sight, pray that crest
stands for all in the world that is right,
for sky blue and the gray of winter's rain.
Someday. Until then, only one
person has seen him. It was she
whom he closes his eyes to see.
Lana was the new schoolteacher.
She was not yet twenty-one, but
it was a young woman's career.
On a field trip with her students,
she swerved the wheezing bus to miss
a free-spirited buck deer.
And, they were coming down a hill.
Had he not been there, spying on her
like a suspicious lover,
they'd have crashed and all been killed.
But, he was there. He caught the way
she ordered the children from here
to there, from moo-cows to their milk;
how her arms moved to guide them, like silk
falling; the depth to which she bowed
to meet them at their level; and how
good a driver she really was. Not
good enough. Had he not been there to grip
the roof of the bus like a preying
praying-mantis, they'd have crashed
and all been killed. As it was,
they were all in shock, afterward.
Just as well: He needn't vibrate his face
to hide his features from sleeping waifs.
Not all slept. She was up, barely, her eyes
twitching in faint recognition of him,
of a face faraway through the cracked glass.
He flew off and sent for help, then came back
as Clark to help the dazed class off the bus.
She must not have remembered. The next day
they held each other and... No mention,
not even haltingly. They rolled in the hay,
were as friendly as the chaste can be,
and he did not crush her. That was dream.
Waking, reality is much harder
than tragic finishes, truth much harder
to swallow than spinach is
for babes to chew.
If they're to be together
he must tell all. One can't hide
the truth from a love forever.
Affections can go out like the tide
and partners often can't dissever
the fact undisclosed from a lie.
Will their love survive disclosure?
Let tomorrow tell, he decides,
and keeps his full composure.
Tonight he flies.
There is good he would do.