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For Air Asia QZ8501
When the seatbelt sign first blinks on
No one bats an eyelid.
Turbulence is common on all flights, after all
The cabin is calm.
A violent jolt shakes the plane-
“Ladies and Gentlemen, this is your Captain speaking. We will shortly be going
through extreme turbulence-
Please remain seated and do not remove your seatbelt. I repeat, please do not
remove your seatbelt until the seatbelt sign is switched off.”
Unease ripples through the cabin;
But mere seconds later it is replaced by more important worries:
What movie to watch next,
Whether to get Coke or 7-Up when the stewardess comes around.
There are more important things to worry about
Than contemplating if one’s life is at stake.
Accidents are reserved for the black and white print of newspapers
One feels a prick of sorrow before flipping the page
To pore over what Angelina Jolie wore to the Oscars,
And who Katy Perry’s latest love interest is.
“We are experiencing technical difficulties-
This is an emergency, I repeat, an emergency. Please stay calm and follow the
instructions of your cabin crew. ”
The cabin explodes into chaos.
Loud moans juxtapose with angry voices,
Demands to know what is happening, why it is happening,
Two planes in one year, isn’t that enough?
Some passengers grip rosary beads with trembling fingers,
Others mutter prayers in a foreign language,
Squeezing pocket-size Buddhas and Brahmas
Still others cling to the hope that to die today is not their fate
We are not ready,
To a state that isn’t Singapore.
Lovers hold each other tightly
Whisper endearments in each other’s ears
Later, the remains of two skeletons will wash up on sandy shores
Arms encircling each other, lips locked in a final gasp for air
Till Death do us Part.
Strangers who have not spoken to each other
For the entire flight
Mutely reach over and hold hands.
Later, their tenuous hold might be nibbled apart by fish
But for now, it is akin to the strongest covalent bond.
Mothers bend over their crying babies
Smooth the tangle of hair from their forehead
Plant a kiss on their downy cheek-
A single tear slips from under their eyelids,
Grief for the dreams their child will never realize
Later, the Indonesian government
Will find hunched-over carcasses of women
That, when turned over,
Reveal the bodies of children
Wrapped in an eternal embrace.
Below, the Java Sea ripples
In all its majesty.
The pain and terror of the passengers above it
Is of no consequence to the sea-
It has seen dynasties rise and fall
This tiny piece of metal
Is of no importance.
Static ripples across the radio.
“We are over the Java Sea—I’m sorry”
The plane hurtles towards the sea,
The tip of its wing bursting into flame-
A white speck against a curtain of blue
Unearthly screams fill the cabin
And you wonder; which is more painful
The physical tearing from limb to limb upon impact
Or the crushing of unrealized hopes, the shredding of paper-thin dreams
If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it
Does it still matter?
Metal meets water with a resounding crack
The fuselage disappears under the surging waves
Without a trace.
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