Tuesday, October 20, 2009

North Rim Grand Canyon

We worked the lightning strike
overnight and finished it
late the next afternoon;
just before dusk
the next storms began building.

I’ve seen nothing
more violent than
monsoon season
storms over the canyon.

Clouds mount to
dizzying heights and merge;
puffy white goes grey
then black, green,
and purple
bruise tones…

Our pilot is likely
out of flight time and
cannot get us the fuck out.

Wind gusts pick up
brush and small trees
spin them crazily away.
The air is suddenly
forty degrees colder.

Then it goes quiet,
the smell of ozone
charged menace in the air.

Surrounded by walls
of storm cloud
closing in fast
the only light
a shaft of setting sun
from the west.

And from there comes
the faint thrum
of a chopper.
It grows louder;
our ex Vietnam evac pilot
has said to hell with regs
and come for us,
but it will be close.

As the big Bell 214
skitters toward us
the wind comes
from everywhere;
Jeff has removed the doors,
to reduce the wind’s effect.

He hovers a foot off the ground
looking straight ahead,
focused on not crashing.
“Get in, now,”
is all he says
and fourteen of us do.

I wind up in the copilot’s seat
slip on headphones
and look left.
Jeff’s hand relaxes
slightly on the cyclic
and instantly
we are flung airborne.

Looking down and right I see,
lit by that narrow shaft
of sunlight and
surrounded by the storm,
the faces of my cohorts
we left behind.

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