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Friday, September 2, 2011

"Ragnarok" or how Mathias Rust saved the world, by Christopher Fox Graham


West German Mathias Rust, 19, lands his Cessna on Red Square on May 28, 1987

Ragnarok
By Christopher Fox Graham

Ragnarok is the end of the world

The Norse Gods
no matter how bravely they fought
believed their doomsday was inevitable

"Odin and Fenrir," by Hélène Adeline Guerber, 1909
on Ragnarok
the Earth would tremble
as Sirtr, the King of the Fire Giants,
split open the skies with a sword brighter than the sun
his army would break Bifröst,
Odin's rainbow bridge
and cover the earth in fire

as the gods fought to their doom
Fenrir the wolf in his death-throes
would swallow the sun
leaving the world to freeze in an endless winter

but Mathias Rust stopped Ragnarok

he's not a Norse god
or found on comic book pages
and in blockbuster films
and if he wears a viking helmet
it's in the privacy of his living room

Mathias stopped Ragnarok
at age 19, he saved the world

at the University of Chicago
the Doomsday Clock
counts down the minutes until the world ends
35 atomic detonations
could cover Earth in a decade of nuclear winter
in 1982, the human race had 20,000 warheads
"Battle of the Doomed Gods" by Friedrich Wilhelm Heine, 1882
because Ronald Reagan and Leonid Brezhnev
couldn't stop counting
reasons to kill each other
in 1984 the Doomsday Clock was 3 minutes to midnight
Mutual Assured Destruction was just a matter of time

in May 1987, Mathias Rust flew his small Cessna
from West Germany to Iceland
he visited Hofdi House
where negotiators from NATO and the Warsaw Pact failed to believe
the other side loved their own children
more than they hated the other's

Mathias Rust flew to Finland and left Helsinki for Stockholm
with visions of how the Norse gods
saw their inevitable doomsday

somewhere over the smooth Baltic Sea
he couldn't help but notice
how the the forests in Sweden on his right
and those in Russia on his left
were beautiful
and identical
somewhere over the sea
terrified by the thought
of those trees burning at Ragnarok
he turned east toward Moscow

at 19 years old
Mathias wanted to become a rainbow bridge
Reagan, Gorbachev and the Norse gods
didn't how easy peace could be

Mathias parted the Iron Curtain
into the most well-defended skies in the Cold War
three surface-to-air missile sites immediately locked on

two MiG-23 interceptors rose with
weapons bristling for the easy kill
while in the cockpit
Mathias heard pilots
asking for permission to shoot him down
they saw the West German flag on the tail
and made eye contact
but no one on the ground believed

the Soviet air force
thought Mathias
was just an lost Russian
who forgot to turn his radio on

for five hours
missile sites locked on
but tagged him a "friendly"
and three more pairs of MiGs
intercepted his plane
but generals on the ground
were blinded by a rainbow

in the the Ring of Steel around Moscow
missile sites built to shoot down the American air force
weren't built to fire on Mathias
and he landed in Red Square

Mathias Rust after his illegal landing on May 28, 1987near Red Square
in Moscow. As an amateur pilot, he flewfrom Finland to Moscow, being
tracked several times by Soviet air defense and interceptors. Soviet
fighters never received permission to shoot him down, and several
times he was mistaken for a friendly aircraft. He landed on Vasilevski
Spusk next to Red Square near the Kremlinin the capital of the Soviet
Union.
Russians visiting the mummified body of Vladimir Lenin
the man who began the Cold War
crowded to see the 19-year-old boy
who would end it

for their failure to stop a boy
landing a dream for peace in Red Square
warhawk Soviet generals were fired faster than Stalin's purges
and Mikhail Gorbachev stood unopposed
he signed a missile treaty
and one-by-one
let former republics declare their freedom

sent back west,
Mathias watched the Berlin Wall fall
and at the University of Chicago
the Doomsday Clock
measuring how close we are to suicide
tick, tick, ticked back time
pushing Ragnarok away

our children doesn't have to worry about Fenrir
swallowing the sun in the 12 minutes
between missile silo mistake and nuclear impact

because Mathias
was just a little bit crazy
and whole lot of lucky

never let anyone tell you
"you're too young change the world"
it doesn't take a Norse god
just a dreamer like Mathais or you
risking your life
to become a rainbow

if we leave it to the gods
the world may still end in fire on Doomsday
but if you sacrifice yourself into a rainbow
Ragnarok may still come
but not today

3 comments:

Belinda Y. Hughes said...

Thank you for your thoughts in Ragnarok. It's a well-wrought piece, reminding me of that day when Rust landed, inspiring me to renew my path toward being the change I want to see in the world.

Belinda Y. Hughes said...

Thank you for your thoughts in Ragnarok. It's a well-wrought piece, reminding me of that day when Rust landed, inspiring me to renew my path toward being the change I want to see in the world.

Treehugger93 said...

For some reason I'm tearing up over this:
he couldn't help but notice
how the the forests in Sweden on his right
and those in Russia on his left
were beautiful
and identical
Anyway, very nice work. History can be dull sometimes, but you made it moving and lovely.