(The first Aviatrix to die was Mme Blanchard, in 1819:
She was barnstorming, setting off fireworks from her
balloon’s gondola–She fell, over Paris, amidst flames)
Who remembers Madame Blanchard,
flaming down on Paris
in that hurly-burly, baroquely adorned, hot air balloon?
Were those below mere innocents, simple popcorn
munching firework watching denizens of the streets? How could they have known
that these prognostications in the sky, this vaingloriously bright happening
a spontaneous apocalyptic proclamation
to that City of Light?
Like a mushroom cloud that lights the horizon?.
And as she was immolated in flames
did she cry out in pain,
or did she laugh (be it in agony), at the irony
of her arrival, “See what gift
I’ve brought you from the gods”?
O Madame Blanchard, yours
is that fearful aspiration of the human race,
to soar, a giant bird, right into the sun,
and to be at one with our finality and our suffering.