Linda Pastan

For Ann Darr at the Air and Space Museum

I buy you a card with a kingfisher on it
to signify flight,
not just the targets you towed
through the wartime air (invisible
wings sprouting
from your sporty jacket)

but the earthly flights
you’ve been taking ever since,
making our cautious days
seem dull and riskless,
our usual language too heavy
to lift from the ground.

Perhaps it was beauty
that made you daring,
or the fact that loss
had come so early
you learned to live
with what would terrify.

Tonight on the ground
we raggedly salute you,
we even fly
a little ourselves
on the jetstream of your
quicksilver words.


Ann Darr (1920 – December 2, 2007) was the author of ten books of poems, and taught creative writing at American University and The Writer’s Center. During WWII, she served in the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs) and wrote often about the experience of flying in her poems. This is the second poem set at the Smithsonian Institution Air and Space Museum by Linda Pastan we’ve had the honor to publish.


Linda Pastan is the author of fifteen book of poems, most recently A Dog Runs Through It (W.W. Norton, 2018) and Insomnia (W.W. Norton, 2015). Two of her books were finalists for the National Book Award: PM/AM (1982) and Carnival Evening (1998). She was Poet Laureate of Maryland from 1991-1995 and winner of the 2003 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize. Other honors include the Dylan Thomas award, a Pushcart Prize, the Bess Hokin Prize from Poetry, and the Poetry Society of America's Alice Fay di Castagnola Award. She lives in Chevy Chase, MD. To read more by this author: Evolving City Issue, Vol. 8:4, Fall 2007 DC Places Issue, Vol. 7:3, Summer 2006 Wartime Issue, Vol. 7:2, Spring 2006 Six Poems, Vol. 6:3, Summer 2005 Whitman Issue, Vol. 6:1, Winter 2004