The general thought about prayer.
He lit a cigarette and thought about it.
If he was a praying man he would pray for a break in the weather,
But prayer was an act of futility, or of presumption,
And he put his faith in the men with the maps
Who read the clouds like ancient fortune-tellers
Only we call it science.
Yesterday they feared a major Atlantic depression
With cold front to follow.
All right (he thought), I’ll put it off one day.
But tomorrow came and he took out his fountain pen
And wrote that the failure of the mission lay on his shoulders alone,
That the men had done all they could.
Then he folded the paper and put it in his pocket.
He lit another Camel. There were days he smoked four packs.
Okay, he said. Let’s go.
-- David Lehman