At the back of the contraption see
the soles of his leather shoes:
Orville’s lying face-down flying
a few feet above the hard ground
which doesn’t hold him anymore,
or snatch him right back.
The din of the engine,
the two huge propellers chopping the air
are so loud you can’t hear
him whooping as he moves forward and rises
into the wind on the white cloth wings:
twelve airy seconds,
one hundred and twenty feet.
Off to the side Wilbur watches,
standing in his dark cap and suit--
a groundshadow of a man,
a lean counterpoint to all this lift.
The soles of a man’s shoes,
his brother in a suit, the sand,
the wind, and the howling joy.
What will come, will come—and soon:
wingshadows above troops and trenches,
over borders, towns and crowded cities.
Spitfire, Hellcat, Flying Fortress.
But first there is this moment:
a man in a suit, light of step
as his brother becomes bird,
dreaming wide awake that the world
is falling away from him
and that he can bring it gently back.
Published in Bellingham Review, no. 70, April 2015.