ARTICLE:ONDER KIZILKAYA, Poet
Above the clouds...
As the plane was climbing, a Turkish folk song welled up inside me: “Sometimes I climb up in the sky and watch the world / Sometimes I come down to earth and the world watches me.”
I like the seat next to the window. I look at the ‘passenger information screen’ in front of me to see where we are at that exact moment and then I find our coordinates on the map at the back of Skylife. When I’ve got a good idea of our location, I cast a quick glance down from the window. I feel as powerful as ‘the thunderbolt-hurling Zeus’ at that moment! Not ‘thunderbolt-hurling’ but ‘flash popping’ would be more like it, I suppose. That’s how I shot it, with a flash bulb. My photo of the Balkans. We had left Bulgaria behind and were flying over Serbia towards Germany. The sky was brilliant, the earth verdant and my heart aflutter like birds’ wings.
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I always fill with joy like a school boy on his way to a picnic whenever I board a plane. What picnic and where, I don’t remember. But I absolutely will never forget the fox that suddenly dashed across our path! Or the plum tree I saw at the side of the road, its fruit hanging ripe and luscious on the branch, bursting with vitality. Sometimes I forget places I’ve been. But what I’ve seen along the way, never! It’s as if I turn into a camera when I set out on a trip. Things just jump out at me sometimes and say, “Shoot me!”, and I can’t stop my hand from going for the shutter.
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The last photograph I took from an airplane is called ‘Ships and Tadpoles’. Gazing down on the earth from above gives a person a great sense of power, a special feeling of confidence. It’s like getting a new ‘angle’ on things. Consider, for example, the huge ships steaming up the Bosphorus. When you look at them from above they aren’t all that big. When you’re way up in the sky, they’re just tiny little things on the face of the deep. With tiny little white tails that they acquire as they cleave the blue main. When you’re in an airplane, those great ships are like tadpoles in a pond.
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I had my daughter with me on my last flight. It was August and we were flying from Izmir to Istanbul. It was her first flight, so I left the ‘window seat’ to her. For her sake I was hoping for partly cloudy weather. For Meral wanted to fly ‘above the clouds’. She had great hopes for that first flight of hers. She was all keyed up, expecting a ‘miracle’. ‘Above the clouds’ was a completely other world for her. In her view, fairies lived above the clouds and ordinary mortals down below. My trip to Istanbul was going to be hers to ‘fairyland’. When the fairies she had seen in the movies got fed up with human beings, or when they just wanted to be by themselves, they turned their backs on the earth and flew high above the clouds for some R&R. Above the clouds was a magical realm. Higher and higher we climbed until finally the clouds were below us. We flew a great distance, we sailed through a lot of clouds, but we didn’t encounter a single fairy. Meral’s first flight ended in great disappointment. We hadn’t even laid eyes on a fairy! But for her the real ‘fairy’ was waiting at home. When we walked in the house an hour later she threw herself into her mother’s arms as if they’d been separated for months. When her mother asked her about the flight, she shrugged, “Oh, it’s not all that much fun,” she said. “But there is one good thing about it. It brings you back to your Mommy pretty fast!”
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We ‘big people’ grow up all over again with our children. Perhaps we can’t live twice, but we do have the chance of seeing the world through new eyes with every child. When I flew with Meral, I couldn’t look at the sky for watching her face, trying to see the world through those eyes. It is actually children who give us wings.