TWA 800

TWA 800

Months after it had plummeted off the coast
of Long Island, and teams of divers scoured
the ocean floor for blasted puzzle pieces
to hoist and reassemble like
a dinosaur (all human cargo lost,
too shattered to restore to more
than names), I heard my postcard

to friends in France had been delivered at last.
Slipped in a padded bag, with a letter
from the U.S. Postal Service ("apologies
for any inconvenience caused
by the accident"), and sea-soaked but intact,
it was legible in every word
I'd written ("Looking forward

to seeing you!") and on the stamp I'd pressed
into a corner: "Harriet Quimby,
Pioneer Pilot." Under her goggled helmet,
she was smiling like a hostess at
this fifty-cent anecdote, in which the most
expendable is preserved and no
rope's thrown to the rest.

— Mary Jo Salter

"TWA 800" is from Open Shutters by Mary Jo Salter (Random House, 2005). Reprinted with the permission of the author.

Home page image: "Wegbereiter Ikarus," print, woodblock on paper, by Wilhelm Geissler, 1966. (Courtesy NASM)

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