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The Man In The Dead Machine

 High on a slope in New Guinea
The Grumman Hellcat
lodges among bright vines
as thick as arms.
In 1943, the clenched hand of a pilot glided it here where no one has ever been.
In the cockpit, the helmeted skeleton sits upright, held by dry sinews at neck and shoulder, and webbing that straps the pelvic cross to the cracked leather of the seat, and the breastbone to the canvas cover of the parachute.
Or say the shrapnel missed him, he flew back to the carrier, and every morning takes the train, his pale hands on the black case, and sits upright, held by the firm webbing.

Poem by Donald Hall
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Book: Reflection on the Important Things