by Deborah Davitt
Men and women in powdered wigs and stiff
brocade, crowded close in the exposition hall,
straining to see the electric sylph, trapped
in a Leyden jar.
Her wings swirled and clung to the jar’s glass walls,
branching blue like liquid lightning,
till they dropped a magnet in with her,
to see what it would do.
They blocked the scent of distressed ozone with
scented hankies pressed to their lips;
twisted and distorted, the sylph sprang free
when next they lifted the lid.
She fled to the upper air, to beg her
cloud-born cousins to help her take revenge—
enraged, they coaxed a storm to form,
brought the lightning down.
The exposition hall took flame,
the laboratory burned; the lords and ladies
lost their wigs and panniers, trampled
in their rush to escape.
And the sylph frolicked, free once more,
dancing through the clouds,
static leaving snapping sonic booms
with each dainty step.
Deborah L. Davitt was raised in Reno, Nevada, but received her MA in English from Penn State. She currently lives in Houston, Texas, with her husband and son. Her poetry has received Rhysling and Pushcart nominations and appeared in over twenty journals; her short fiction has appeared in InterGalactic Medicine Show, Compelling Science Fiction, and The Fantasist.