Poem of the Week: On Wings of Gold

Sarah Byrn Rickman
Pikes Peak, Colorado Branch

 

Fog shrouds the wings; dawn, but a shard of light.
Twin engines labor, eager to unbridle the horses.
Toes, hard on brakes, check the trembling aircraft.

From the tower, “Cleared for takeoff.”
Brakes off. Throttle to the firewall.
Spine thrust back against the seat.

Rolling, rumbling, reaching,
Wheels eat up runway. Lift.
Ease yoke back. Climb!

Eyes on instruments. Don’t look out!
The Pacific, invisible, lies below.
Altimeter reads seven…eight…nine hundred feet…

A shock of blue—a cloudless sky.

Execute a 180, bearing due east.
Sunrays strike silver wings, turning them gold.
Oh to pull over, stop in mid air, drink it all in!

Below, murky black stuff;
Ahead, two snow-covered peaks,
Sunlight rising through the pass between them.

Above it all, a sleek P-38 flies on wings of gold.

 

© Sarah Byrn Rickman

This poem is inspired by, and dedicated to, Betty Huyler Gillies (1908-1998), second in command, Women’s Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron, 1942-1944. In an oral history recorded in 1996, Betty described her first flight in a P-38 twin-engine pursuit aircraft that she ferried from Long Beach, California to Newark, New Jersey.

 

Comments

  1. Sarah, I love your poem. I read it out loud to my hubby, who also liked it. I could almost feel the tremble of the engines, and hear the sounds in the cockpit as the pilot manages to bring that big machine into the air!

  2. Charlene Hampton Holloway says:

    This is an excellent well-written dedication to a woman who was a deserving individual to be honored.

  3. Barb Whitmarsh says:

    Thanks for your service. Good piece
    B.W.