A Poem for the new year: FIRST THINGS FIRST by Gill Robb Wilson

FIRST THINGS FIRST     by Gill Robb Wilson

The boundary lamps were yellow blurs

Against the winter night

And I had checked the last ship in

And snapped the office light,

And paused a while to let the ghosts

Of bygone days and men

Roam down the skies of auld lang syne

As one will now and then …

When fancy set me company

A red checked lad to stand

With questions gleaming in his eyes,

A model in his hand.

He may have been your boy or mine,

I could not clearly see,

But there was no mistaking how

His eyes were questing me

For answers which all sons must have

Who builds their toys in play

But pow’r them in valiant dreams

And fly them far away;

So down I sat with him beside

There in the dim lit shed

And with the ghost of better men

To check on me, I said:

“I cannot tell you, sonny boy,

The future of this art,

But one thing I can show you, lad,

An old time pilot’s heart;

And you may judge what flight may give

Or hold in store for you

By knowing how true pilots feel

About the work they do;

And only he who dedicates

His life to some ideal

Becomes as one with the dreams

His future will reveal

Not one of whose wings are dust

Would call his bargain in,

Not one of us would welsh his part

To save his bloomin’ skin,

Not one would wish to walk again

Unless allowed to throw

His heart into the thing he loved

And go as he would go:

Not one would change for gold or pow’r

Nor fun nor love nor fame

The part he played and price he paid

In making the good game.

And of the living … none, not one

Regrets the scars he bears,

The sheer uncertainty of plans,

The poverty he shares,

Remitted price for one mistake

That checks a bright career,

The shattered hopes, the scant rewards,

The future never clear:

And of the living … none, not one

Who truly loves the sky

Would trade a hundred earth bound hours

For one that he could fly.

If that sleek model in your hand

Which you have brought to me

Most represents the thing you love,

The thing you want to be,

Then you will fill your curly head

With knowledge, fact and lore,

For there is no short cut which leads

To aviation’s door;

And only those whose zeal is proved

By patient toil and will

Shall ever have a part to play

Or have a place to fill.”

And suddenly the lad was gone

On wings I could not hear,

But from afar off came his voice

In studied tones and clear,

A prophet’s message simply told

For this is what he said

And why his hand will someday lead

Formations overhead,

“Who wants to fly has got to know:

Now two times two is four:

I’ve got to learn the first things first!”

.. I closed the hanger door.