May 112014
 

On Mother’s Day, remembering my mom, Diana Anne-Marie Estelle Gunilla von Schinkel Bancroft, who passed away nearly ten years ago:
 

Diana-Bancroft-smHer Mission of Light
 

Seven months after the death of my mother,
the corpulent C-130s circling the air base

remind me how, when she was nine,
the Swedish girl they called matchstick legs

(who could sprint the sandy length
of seaside lane in record time) first heard

and then saw the Nazi bombers
in their razor-tight formations scraping

the low chin of the horizon, en route
to Norway and dark England beyond.

She too passed like a recondite
mission, whispering from 17,000 feet,

a near-anonymous entry into the endless log
of the world’s migrations. Sixty-one years

later, I take the vacant road past
the base’s back gate, along the brilliantly

destructive rows of F-4s and A-10s,
with their own secret missions to

Vietnam and Bosnia and Iraq, places
she could have lived in her 1950s

migration to America—places like the vast
and abundant plains of Rhodesia or

the golden avenues of Naples and Rome.
The street here is not glowing, nor

full of life. But it leads to the blue
hills beyond the river, and from there

the scarlet cliffs of the Santa Catalinas—
and sometimes, as now, the light off a curving

wing catches and holds the mountains and clouds
and, higher still, a vapor trail to the heavens.

 

Originally appeared in The Manhattan Review

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