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Vision of Heaven


1Is it this humdrum vision of heaven

seen through the cartoon-eye of the plane

123its drooping eyelid opened

1234that makes us so afraid

1to fly? A landscape known to painters

who worked for weeks, years on their backs

123to make chapel ceilings resound

1with glory. What would they say

123to see their inspiration laid so bare

1seen even by those who, like us, fly

123cattle-class, edified only

by flight attendants who mark the experience

123with worn-out rituals before

1the vessel turns to face the runway

which records each black tyre-mark of

1every coming and going, who barely

1234bother to strap themselves in

1before the sudden, unearthly acceleration

that stretches time’s seams near to breaking

1234and makes us airborne? Up here

the air hums, the trolley chinks its way

along the aisle selling synthetic perfume

1234and expensive watches while

1like children, foreheads pressed against

the inch-thick panes, afraid someone might catch us

123at it, shyly we stare and stare.



© Matt Barnard

Picture 10547696, photograph 1914-1918, image copyright Mary Evans / Imperial War Museum/Robert Hunt Library



Matt Barnard is a poet and writer. His collection, Anatomy of a Whale, was published in 2018 by The Onslaught Press, and he has won the Poetry Society’s Hamish Canham Prize and the Ink Tears national short story competition. He also edited the anthology Poems for the NHS, published by the Onslaught Press. His website is