Though Orville flew first, Wilbur flew the best at Kitty Hawk.
By Orville’s hand the Flyer stayed up long enough to say
It flew – but Wilbur was first pilot, hauling on or off
Hip cradle, elevator, pulleys. Airborne cussedness,
The halting, warping, triple-axised thing fought through the air
And Wilbur strained to hold together, balance entities
In different parts rigged differently, bewilderments of truss
Criss-crossing in cat’s-cradled webworks. Independent parts
Declaring independence, Wilbur orchestrated: nose
Pitched up and down: he slid his hips to roll the plane: behind, 
Contrariwise propellers shrieking 10 feet off the earth,
Eight hundred fifty feet, a minute less a second.
         myth, my lullaby, is I’m the same I every time.
Me. Known address. Certificate of occupancy. I’m
Also the one who lies amid the fuming, deafening motors,
Rotating selves that screw me through the air against the surd
Of midnight. Struts crack; guywires sing with stress; my fabric shreds
In loud, white sheer. That’s what flight is, or riding, like the time
I saw a circus acrobat. She rode a three-horse team
While standing, knees bent, smiles like cards dealt to the crowd. Control
Is part relinquishment: accounting for the lurches, bucks,
And counterrhythms, balanced readjustment to allow
Excesses here poised by assertions there, to smooth the seem
Of mastery. “Who’s that?” they asked . . .  who wasn’t she?  She went
By many names. The crowd had seen Incomparable Giselle
Time and again tonight: shot out of cannons, trampolined,
Grasped at the pretty ankles by Armando on trapeze,
Her head in George the Bear’s mouth, unicycling on a wire.
She (who?) each time.
                         (Today, she drove the tent-stake driver, strained
With clowns, trombonists, cooks to haul the big top up. Past midnight,
She’ll lead the horses to the truck. A signal; engines rev;
Police lights whirlwind; sluggish train uncoils, pays down the road;
The Turnpike’s closed  to let them caravan the gruntled towns
Of Jersey.) 
                   Circus rouge and costumes let the crowd pretend
They don’t know what they know best: big top logic of their lives:
Incomparable Giselle was Eva May an hour ago –
Her whip barked! Stallions strode like men! – then Lovely Jacquelynne
Thrown through the smoky air, or throwing. Loopy-Doo The Clown
Bunged in a barrel, set on fire; her teardrop eyes. The crowd
Applauds for each; each bows, and at the final Grand Parade
A nameless woman, one name, all names, gets her moment’s rah,
The self an act of jugglery where no sword leaves the hand
Yet all flash to the vision. Roles and roles, some kindred, some
Nextdoor neighbors who never speak, some enemies. And she
Negotiates, she integrates, she tacitly assents
To I and Thou as necessary shuffle. She applauds
Good dealers and good deals. She savors multiplicity,
Word of her moment, Jacquelynne, Giselle, and Loopy-Doo
All in one woman, ease astride a team whose steeds appear
Or disappear as she rides round the ring, a changing charge
Of three, or is it one? or none? or four?, she still astride
And riding righteous, rider and the ride. She rides as right
As Wilbur Wright, who held together cranky herds of kites
Against their will and earthy downward long enough to fly.