posted Jun 14, 2011

Imagine the dull lunch hours
at the baking company
in Bridgeport, Connecticut,
where pies and more pies
were turned out for year
after year of Yale students
to eat, then flick their wrists
and let fly the tins, marked
Frisbie Pie Company, until
one afternoon in 1948
someone thought to skip
the pie and get right
to playing the game.
The first plastic Frisbee sold,
then so did a hundred
million more, but a first
is a first. The first cable car
patent in 1871
for the Clay Street Hill Line,
the first motel in the world,
the “Milestone,” opened
in 1925 on Highway 101
just north of San Luis Obispo,
the first license plates
(France, 1893).
The Penny Black.
The Gutenburg Bible.
The Morris Worm.
The Web Crawler.
The Tulip Stairs.
Yellowstone’s Shoshone
National Forest. We don’t
remember what comes next,
but being first at almost
anything assures you
a place in someone’s history:
first Microsoft employees,
first call placed on a cell phone,
first Oscar winners,
first image of a tornado, first
casualty of each successive war.

Margot Schilpp's third book of poems, Civil Twilight, will be published by Carnegie Mellon University Press in early 2012. Recent poems have appeared in Copper Nickel, Tar River Poetry, Crab Orchard Review, Anti-, DIAGRAM, and Cincinnati Review. She teaches at the Educational Center for the Arts, Southern Connecticut State University, and Quinnipiac University.

Schilpp’s poem “Lullaby with One Party Missing” also appears in this issue.