Shari Wagner: "First Flight"


            Richmond, Indiana, 1884



It quivered in the roll and turn

as Orville banked a curve,

spun from his hubs as he sped

downhill to the river.   


And a dream caught

in Will’s spokes, too, as he pedaled

to the rear, reading the cursive

of turkey buzzards, how they’d


coast with wings extended,

feather-tips twisted to balance on air.

Something tugged them both

away from their mother,


wasted balsa wood thin, delicate

as the kite frames

she helped them build. 

Their pockets were packed


with pennies and love notes,

the ballast of loss,

as they raced what snapped

at their heels—tomorrow’s move


to Ohio.  Under cirrus clouds,

dirt roads flew beneath them,

spokes twirled like a whirligig’s blades,

like a flyer’s spruce propellers,


like something so fantastic

it would lift them to the sky.



Shari Wagner's first book of poems, Evening Chore, was published in 2005, and her poetry has been published in a number of magazines, including North American Review, Shenandoah, National Wetlands Newsletter, and Writer's Almanac with Garrison Keillor.  Last year, she had a Creative Renewal Fellowship from the Arts Council of Indianapolis and a Project Grant from the Indiana Arts Commission.  Wagner teaches for the Writers' Center of Indiana.