Fear of Flying

1.
We looked down at our craft,
a rubber dinghy, rescue-orange,
not Charon’s promised ship,
but we are tied to it now,
to get us thirty-three kilometres,
to a safer place:

I had paid for a life jacket,
with my last fifty dollars,
the going price,
and strapped the aid
to my youngest’s body,
losing him in its bulk,
assuring him it’d be alright.

Salt on my lips burnt to remind me
that we faced poisonous channels,
that we do not swallow the water,
that we only taste the air:
God’s last breath.

And I looked him in the eye,
my eight year old child,
this century’s offspring,
not saying anything,
instead silently praying,
that we both survived.

2.
I fear flying, with him,
a ridiculous agony of what could be,
if we dropped from the sky,
but here we take to the water,
in a simpler, but, more dangerous craft.

I left my wife, his mother,
buried too deep to recover,
her headstone delivered
one night by Putin,
on orders, whatever they were:

I cannot speak Russian,
only Arabic, French and English,
being a Syrian, a descendant of Eblan,
the first world power,
before New World wars ever began.

3.
Our useless boat almost sank,
on its launch, but we bailed,
clung, held each other –
my legs went dead in the crush –
Under breath: God, please, if that could be
the only death tonight.

I woke to still-no-land,
in the damp sobbing, lit by the glow
of phones held up,
seeking signal distance;
my held child slept,
ignorant of the sleeplessness
I endured

as a parent, guardian, keeper,
watcher, life guard
who cannot swim.
Then the water joined us,
Achilles heel-first,
here, vulnerable to the sea.

This was our nose-dive,
and I held him, we descended:
He chilled in the tall waves’
lifts and drops,
spitting out coin-foul water,
bailing our throats with heaves:

I slipped under as that jacket
took him away, to the other side,
his limpness no more weight,
no buoyancy required
in the underworld,
a cold, cold death
for my warm-clime child,
and me.

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