Flying across Michigan before dawn

Crossroads glow below me. The dark sky is bluing; dawn oranges behind me.
Michigan is flat, but not so flat as those Flanders photographs
my grandfather took from a German balloon in the winter of 1916.
Should we keep the gray photos, or should we give them to a
German military museum? A German military museum?

I see two iron crosses, one from my grandfather, Erwin,
and one from his older brother, Helmut,
who was shot in Thilloy, his binoculars in his hands.
Yes, these very binoculars. He died on November fifth, 1916,
killed by an Australian. Should we lend these binoculars to a
German military museum? A German military museum?
Please, it’s only for their 2016 exhibit on the battle of the Somme,
which my balloonist grandfather survived,
not yet imagining his Holocaust flight.

Now I see the shore of Lake Michigan beaded light.
Shortly, the golden grid we call Chicago comes into view.
In preparation for landing, I put up my table.
It is still dark. Dawn is still behind us.
I advanced, landing 18 minutes before takeoff.


About Joan E. Strassmann

Evolutionary biologist, studies social behavior in insects & microbes, interested in education, travel, birds, tropics, nature, food; biology professor at Washington University in St. Louis
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