Harriet Quimby, drama critic and aviator (1875-1912)

I lift off, climb
above swaths of suburbs,
taut tennis courts,
lazy fairways,

lines of sailboats
where sea shifts blue-green to blue.
I level out above small farms
like the one where I was born,

I linger near cumulus
reading the promise of rain,
all afternoon I cruise through cirrus,
deciphering alphabets

the breeze frays and feathers.
Give me words for sky, new ones,
as I rise through a ceiling of fog
whiter than a snowfield,

or plunge through a cloudbank
the colors of a desert canyon.
Pilots are pioneers.
In our luminous machines,

we are plowing
high prairies of air,
seeding them,
settling new routines.


Dolores Hayden is an urban historian, a professor at Yale, and a poet. Send her an email at

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