Fear of Flying
By James McMurtry
Yesterday, I flew on Southwest
Airlines flight 420 from Tampa
Florida to Austin Texas. I sat in
a window seat on the left side of the plane. I watched the blue waters of the
gulf go by thirty five thousand feet below. I saw ships kicking up a white
froth at their sterns. I saw a few oil platforms.
An hour or so into the flight,
the platforms increased in numbers and so did the ships. Then the water turned,
in a knife’s edge, from blue to brown and boats and ships were visible
everywhere. In normal times I would have thought the water was brown from silt
pouring out from the Mississippi
into the Gulf, but this brown stain went on further than I could see. Now the
ships and boats left strange dark wakes with no white froth at their sterns.
Even a Mississippi River tow boat kicks up a
white wake. Some of these boats’ wakes showed them to have been turning circles
and triangles in the brown stuff. The brown went on for minutes, hundreds of
miles, and, a ways to the west, I began to see black streaks in the brown
The captain didn’t point out
whatever it was, and none of my fellow passengers seemed to notice, most
consumed with whatever was on their laptops and telling their life stories to
all of us. Ho Hum.
Singer-songwriter James McMurtry lives in Austin, Texas.
When he’s not touring, you can see him at the Continental Club every Wednesday,
‘round about midnight. Full details at his official website. His
latest album, Live In Europe, was released
last year on Lightning Rod Records – read the Blurt review here.