Ada Lovelace was Lord Byron’s daughter
& writer of the first computer program

And so I, student of proportion,
set to the task of wings,
tracing the bodies of gliding birds
from the inside out.
Their long ossifications
curve like a harp’s neck,
and my fingertips redden,
knowing before I do
that music and anatomy are two words
for the same desire.
As I read and sketch,
I consider first of what to construct
my hollow bones. I must be very light
from watching the trees die,
bloom, and die again
in my bedside window.
Wire, paper, oilsilk.
In my mind they are forming
like the thin white film
on the surface of chocolate
gone undrunk from breakfast:
the crisscrossing trusses
protruding from my shoulders,
the long vaned plumes
winking as Venetian blinds do
in the face of a morning wind.
Won’t this make the most wonderful book, Mother?
Of course I will need a compass
to navigate my soaring
from Kirkby Mallory over the mountains,
and to illustrate my findings
I will need a limestone plate
and at least two grease crayons.
Turpentine. And linseed oil ink.
The way is to keep the stone
wet with water, then roll it with acid.
Is this not what we mean when we say beauty?
The meet of things immiscible?
What we cannot by our nature become,
does not there wait our legacy,
arching to be stroked?

Gabrielle Bates is an MFA candidate at the University of Washington, coordinating editor of The Seattle Review, and twitter editor of Broadsided Press. Recently named an Indiana Review Poetry Prize finalist and winner of Gigantic Sequins‘ poetry comic contest, her work appears in Guernica, Rattle, Southern Humanities Review, Radar Poetry, and other journals. She can be found online at or on twitter (@GabrielleBates).