Old Ideas of Air Travel
I’m looking into a blue tarpaulin of sky
where the flecks in my vision ascend and glide
as if they were, too, the cloud-light dirigibles
that once traversed this pinch of hemisphere in record time,
and I think of when we lighted upon that fire balloon kit
in the sudden hangar of your father’s shed
its packaging venous as a pinned moth,
that we unpacked it and let the breeze bring it to life
and it bobbed up, wingless, a jellyfish calmly
blazing a trail through the pondweed of night.
Soon it was aglow at your farmhouse’s height
but the flame bent scale, detail and distance
and in it I saw those Parisian contraptions
that would have looked more at home underwater
the Aerostat Reveillon, Garnerin parachute and hydrogen balloon
Blanchard sat in to cross the blunt English Channel
the faux wings he’d made of bamboo and linen,
the sandbags, coats, pants and provisions, all needing to go over
once the wind had pulled him too close to the water.
And it hung there, while this flotsam buoyed up in my mind,
until it seemed our grey patch of field had been blown
up and into a distance that couldn’t be settled, so I turned,
and in turning shored up your flush face, a coastline.