Black Box

Because the cockpit, like the snowy village in a paperweight,
parodies the undomed world outside, and because
even a randomly composed society like Air Florida

flight #7 needs minutes for its meeting, the tape
in the black box slithers and loops with its slow,
urinary hiss like the air-filtering system in a fall-

out shelter. What’s normally on the tape? Office life
at 39,000 feet, radio sputter and blab, language
on automatic pilot. Suppose the flight should fail.

Cosseted against impact and armored against fire,
the black box records not time but history. Bad choice.
The most frequent last word on the black box

tape is “Mother.” Will this change if we get
more female pilots? Who knows? But here’s
the best exchange: “We’re going down.” “I know.”

:: William Matthews, Forseeable Futures (1987)

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