I once was stationed aboard the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63) homeported out of Yokosuka Japan. She was the oldest commissioned carrier, and I had known people who had grandfathers who had served on her. She (ships are always referred to in the feminine) was decommissioned in 2009 and, thus, is no longer in service. I don't know what has become of her parts. Her last place of rest was documented as Bremerton, Washington. If interested, you can read more about her history and accomplishments here.
This poem is more about the Sailors who took care of the planes than it is about my time onboard the carrier. While it was difficult duty because we were "forward deployed" (basically we were always gone, on average, 9 months out of a year), it was another eye opener for me. Of course, I was a "little girl" then compared to who I am now and certainly more impressionable. I will always look back fondly on the Sailors and experiences who shaped the Sailor that I am today.
I wake from dreams I cannot remember
to the boom of aircrafts’ thrusters.
They catapult in succession
from the flight deck’s tarred, roughened surface,
leaving a clouded mirage of heat and drifting smoke
with brown, sooty faces emerging.
they are graceful,
lining the span of gray-blue sky,
their displays of skill and prowess.
They capture a small moment’s stillness in heaven,
encircling the halo of unfathomable sea.
against the curved belly of an orange sun,
they strike the flight deck’s scarred surface once more,
returning to hands that tend to their care.
In green and brown shirts, undistinguished,
they converge in the life-cycle of the planes,
nursing, bandaging, and beautifying-
I remember them.
I see one,
face immersed in the cockpit
with a rag gripped by a scorched, oil-blackened hand,
his stained green shirt with sagging rips.
his manner meaningful and weary,
just as worn,
tending to a wing of a plane
in a way I may never realize.
If I look them in the eyes,
I see hopelessness and life,
awe and knowingness,
meanness and love,
and the undying spirit that inspires,
that reaches, giving to and taking from my life
everything I’ve never had…..