Elegy For the Flying Machine

from by Fiona Chamness

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lyrics

In 5th grade we practiced running
Out beyond the fence behind the gravel yard
We weren't supposed to go out there
Keep your heads where we can see them
But we'd gather to a sprint, a leap, keep count, how long, how far
I once stayed up 12 seconds in the air

Call it what you will, a cheater's tally
But I will call it proof
Orville & Wilbur's first attempt, 12 seconds
Breathless, no higher than the roof

& they're building a flying machine
A little gliding thing straight out of Miyazaki
Like a seagull you can ride
& maybe if I'm small enough, I can test the flying machine
No stop at 12 seconds
Cast the earth aside

I don't eat - nobody said it
But in middle school I had to force my friends
To finish lunch each afternoon
They tried to sever all their ties but mostly they're all fine now
I believe we had a 7th sense
To keep us picking up that supper spoon

But sometimes when you wake up sick & sorry
It all comes back again
& where are you now, oh 7th sense, 12 seconds
Say it, you're useless in the end

& they're building a flying machine
A perfect bird in search of some imperfect pilot
You have to be 120 pounds or less
& maybe if I'm skinny soon I can test the flying machine
Start swallowing cirrus
It tastes clean, I'd guess

But who knows how the thought goes
Were our kid wishes heavy, is weightlessness wrong
Am I right in screaming Stay here, give us all of your years
No matter how ugly & ungodly long

& yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, I live now
In the Birthplace of Aviation
& that & the friends gathered round in the dark
Are my 12 seconds' consolation, yeah

& they're building a flying machine
& as we stand here helpless witness to its soaring
I think of all the counting losing brings
But maybe we'll hold tight enough not to need the flying machine
We will clutch one another's strings
We will wait for our coming wings

In 5th grade we practiced running
Out beyond the fence behind the gravel yard
We weren't supposed to go out there

credits

from Dispatches From the Well, released October 3, 2012

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about

Fiona Chamness Ann Arbor, Michigan

Fiona Chamness is a poet and songwriter from Ann Arbor, MI. She is coauthor, with Aimée Lê, of Feral Citizens, published in 2011 by Red Beard Press. She belongs to the poetry ensemble Ann Arbor Wordworks and two bands, Helicopter Parents and The Cutting Room Floor. She has performed poetry and music in Ann Arbor, Chicago, Oberlin, Hanover, Boston, St. Louis, Berkeley, and Sevilla, Spain. ... more

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