Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Inventor


                          (A country house in France, 1782)


Her chemise hung over the hearth
and her husband watched
its cloth inflate
as the fire glowed
and heat rose
with the scent of cherry wood.
Like a ghost
the flame's breath
stole possession of the garment
shifting  slightly left then right.
The young man having made
his study of the scene,
enough to guess that such  a flame
could launch a large balloon,
exclaimed -- soliloquized;
Oh! woman
despite your shape
shown elsewhere this day,
thou art loosed.
You are here
as shadow, as wood smoke
 lifting from the warmth
that placed a kettle
on the fire
or hot stones in brass
that kept sheets warm
while passion struck
the bare kindling of our limbs.
Oh! Woman, thou art loosed,
flown from that slender form
to make your presence known, lining
 lingerie that stirs
 my blood as well -- or more
than propelling flight
with a basket and bulbous
sack of air.
Its silk painted blue
with the wine god's face -- and golden
fleurs de lis.
Oh! Woman thou art loosed.
The house in light
and you levitating at dusk
makes me sense --
                          I am possessed!

In the latter part of the 18th century, inventors and scientists became obsessed with flight, especially through the use of a giant  balloon, fueled by  flame and carrying its passengers in a basket gondola.  Two brothers in France, Joseph and Jacques Mongolfier, were the first to launch the flight of one of these elaborate contraptions. Inventors and scientists, they spent months stretching into years studying the dynamics of the climate, the air craft itself, and launching sites. The idea to lift the balloon off by fire was discovered, according to legend, by Joseph when he watched his wife's chemise (hanging over the flame) billow  as the heat rose and dried the intimate apparel. Drying laundry inspired a master idea and plan. This poem is not meant to  portray Joseph's character or reaction; but a character derived from that fabled event and how it affected  his relationship/identity with both science and sensual passion.

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