When I tuck the navy blue comforter 
around Mark and ask him 
what he’s grateful for, he says, 
“Can I tell you something instead?”

“In World War II, 
there were these bombers
called B-24s and
half of them crashed 
before combat
because they were that bad.”

He and his brother had read
the story of Louis Zamperini,
Unbroken, the young reader’s edition,
that my aunt sent them 
from Texas in a box. 

“Those were the B-24 Liberators,” 
Luke says in the bunk below him,
“but they called them ‘flying coffins.’”

When I was their age,
I didn’t understand
how death could be a 
But now I see.

It’s hard to take off
and stay on course
in these bodies, brains,
with their stiff, heavy controls —
flying coffins
destined to crash.

It gave a man religion, they said,
to fly one of those bombers.

Six years ago, they found a
B-24 Liberator
in an old pine forest in Lazio.

I wouldn’t mind if my wreckage
were scattered in those woods —
boulders pillowed with moss,
trees draping the sky,
a medieval town
clutching the hill.