On Hotham Park, August, 1942
The Channel ruffled its cheesecloth beyond Hotham Park,
under a sky-trail of hieroglyphic contrails, Spitfires,
black-crossed Messerschmitts and Wolfes. With sharp
faces we cheered the home-side kills, the falling fighter's
pirouettes, the tail-spun crumps and fiery columns cloaked
as failing comets. None imagined the panicked gauntlet
grappling with a stick when the cock-pit jammed,
how far they were from home, what dying here revoked.
But what was it in our upturned childish faces, what threat
did he suppose, this airmen turning back towards the land
when home was calling? We watched him turn, a glint shown
on his cock-pit glass with fire sent flickering from each wing,
not reckless Phaeton in a burning chariot, some other thing,
a hot-shot teenage air-ace working children from the bone.
Adam Cairns is a poet and photographer who lives in South Wales. He can often be found shivering and wet trying to photograph birds. When he warms up, he sometimes writes poetry. @AdamAcorns
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