Dad and his former barracks-mate had brought out some of these photos tonight. I lost all interest in the improbable feats of Col. Steve Austin as anecdotes of real adventures issued from the other end of the room. With Minou the 2nd purring in my lap, I scanned the aircraft portraits on the coffee table until a couple in particular made me do a double take.
A gleaming delta-winged jet, white as a gull's breast, made my breath catch. I scooted in for a closer look, squeezing the cat a little too hard, and he hastily departed, sounding out a low opinion of this outrage that I had perpetrated on him.
Dad's buddy eyed these proceedings cannily, "Yup, people still do that when they see what the Arrow looked like."
"I'd sure like to see one sometime!" I piped up.
"You'd have better luck looking for passenger pigeons, dear. That asshole Diefenbaker scrapped'em all. Some people say there's one or two left hidden away somewhere, but I wouldn't bet my house on it, that's for sure!"
Minou was back again, meowing for his Puss'n'Boots. I went off to the kitchen to sate his hunger and the men lounging by the fireplace opened two more beers and cracked a joke.
Things went on pretty much as they did before, but ever since the ghost of the machine has walked with me, shadowing my steps along with three more cats and two dogs, through high school, university and life itself. It curls up on my bed when I sleep, lies under the table when I work, and insinuates itself into my waking and dreaming existence until my hand can duplicate its contours with the ease of a skater practicing her compulsory figures. I hear all the noise the Americans make about JFK, about him being their ritually slain Corn God and all that. Although most Canadians can't quite put a finger on it until it's pointed out to us, we had a Corn God sacrifice experience too. Our corn god, however, had delta wings.
It is no surprise to me, a student of myth and folklore, that the Avro Arrow, in the circles in which it is most vividly remembered, has taken on an almost Christ-like aura. Certainly the core elements of the myth have fallen into place - the nativity (construction), the life account of promise and testing, and the slaying (destruction). The rumour of aircraft remaining intact keys directly to the ancient yearning for resurrection and renewal of that potential, as well as the reconcilation and restoration of grace. In this light, the child of nature (humanity) and the child of art (the machine) have become symbiotes. My characters, Sky-on-Water and Mariah were the logical representations of this equation as it emerged in my mind. Are they whole creations or are they products of a Jungian synthesis of history and cultural memory? One thing is certain: like hungry cats, they won't be easily ignored.
Born so long afterward but yet the ghost
still walks with me
Voicing the promise and the heartbreak
in its melody
Despite the decades' passage and the
burdens brought to bear
Standing on tarmac I can almost see the
Models and mockups cannot capture
that which once was real
Though their contours echo with a resonance
that I can feel
Do I e'er wonder about the seed that
could have thrived?
But in other times and places
its genetics have survived.
History mocks and flays all those
who cover with their lies
Those who tore our northern wings
out of the boundless skies
Though I no longer fear the day
that I will die
For in the afterlife I'll sit and watch
the Arrows fly.
watch the Arrows fly
Dried-out husks, bound with string
metal and fire and delta wings (milk and blood)
(repeat 4 times)