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)