Bomber pilots knew wind could be a mercy seven thousand feet up
river like a pelican’s neck    engine drone a chorus of song
clouds could be a mercy rain could be a mercy snow could be
a mercy    the wrong type of moon

did ties whistle and whip when a payload was cut began
its nearly eight-minute journey back to Earth the silence
of that descent frightening to them sitting in the sky goggled
and scarfed delivering death like a baby from above

who thought to name a thirteen-foot-long four-thousand-pound
bomb Satan    had that person ever crouched close as a plane birthed
a payload that drifted    did he wonder about the free will of objects
we set in motion how they resist us as if a silent hand

sometimes saying no    during World War I when
the Germans were using zeppelins in aerial campaigns
the French planned to build a fake Paris fifteen miles north
on the river complete with a replica street plan Arc de Triomphe

working trains snuffed-out lights that at night
might fool the bombers who’d fly right over a blacked-out Paris
engine drones a lullaby they never had to use
the war ended in 1918 all vestiges of the city outside the city

destroyed    Fernand Jacopozzi the engineer who’d designed
the stage-set Paris lit the Eiffel Tower instead
then died in his home in 1932 at age fifty-four his lasting gift
the realization that good and evil are both drawn to light

From Wind, Trees (Copper Canyon Press, 2022).

Read on . . .

Oregon 1945,” a poem by Stella Wong