The weather’s clear this evening over Scotland–
frost, no fog; bases should be open.
But the navigator’s brought a flask of soup,
razor and toothbrush in trouser pocket.
Strapped with our familiar shadows,
conducting checks to the waving torches,
we call “Brakes on, start one: start two.”
Dials go mad in their ecstasy.
Along the blue-lit taxiways we hunt,
perfecting our time of departure.
Waiting alone, we estimate the sky
dying beyond the Hebrides.
Lined up, the old bitch howls,
shaking her fifty thousand pounds,
ramming the asphalt down; then softly
slips into the impartial air.
We swing north-west, making the stratosphere,
our future hooked to hissing oxygen.
Below, all Germany snores; and now we see
our track made good to London’s lights