He had been flying beside us all our lives:
At Christmas, birthdays-was an unknown guest at weddings-
Present even at games of football beside the pond;
Seated gazing up through the mossy Perspex
And farm pond frogs, forever,
With three kills painted on his tail.
He hid until the lion drought, drinking from his pool that summer
Forced him out, neither man nor machine-but something else-
Swimming towards us from The War. Look,
The fin and rudder in widows’ veils of pond weed,
The bold and confident swastika winking like an eye
Above the frog spawn mouth.
The Coroner –in waders-finds the pilot.
Shadowy airman, uncalled-for guest, squadron leader
Of family secrets: madness? Plagues?
In what cupboards, beneath which floorboards,
Do your other wingmen wait?