35,000 Feet

Photo by Jou00ebl Super on Pexels.com

He climbed into the jet’s wheel well

in Havana.

In June, 1969, he was seventeen.

The Iberia Douglas DC-8 flew

non-stop

to Madrid.

Why Madrid?

All the other flights

went to communist countries.

*

He held on by his fingertips

during take-off.

The wind blew him sideways.

He became part of the noise.

The deafening blackness.

*

He shivered and shook

in freezing air

at minus thirty degrees.

Deprived of oxygen

he passed out.

*

The pilot found him

under the plane.

Presumed dead,

covered in ice.

*

Armando Socarras Ramirez survived.

Like a hibernating animal

he returned to life

in the warm Spanish air.

*

128 wheelwell stowaways

since 1947,

all males

driven by desperation

risking everything.

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