A good pilot in battle over water
keeps flightplans bound in lead covers—
if she has to ditch her bird, her heart,

her codes will sink quickly out of reach.
Imagine the ocean's floor full of love's litter:
the lead-laced intentions, someone's

Spitfire full of holes. Who is she to think
she will make the return trip, wingtip
to wingtip with another lucky crew,

her gunners spreading fire in their track,
her photographers collecting images
she has no time to see for herself?

If she dares to look back, she will see she made mistakes,
miscalculated her attitude by a few degrees,
nagged his shore too soon after dusk.

Who's to say which sordid sortie will do her in,
leave her thirsty in some unromantic life raft,
the lusty propeller noise distancing itself?

— Anna Leahy

"Warbird" by Anna Leahy is featured in Constituents of Matter (2007) and Turns about a Point (2006). Reprinted with permission of the author.

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

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