Friday 19 August 2011

Yseult's Flight

Officially, it was Charles Lindbergh’s wife Anne Marie who was the first woman to see Trinidad from the air. In her journal, Anne Marie described the ‘iridescent colours’ of the sea and the ‘verdant slopes’ of the mountains.

Unofficially, however, it was Yseult Bridges, who lived around the Savannah. Here an abridged account of her flight, from her book ‘Child of the Tropics’, an incident which took place about twenty years before the first aviators came to Trinidad!

“Waking or sleeping the determination to fly became fixed in my mind. At night I soared into sleep, and sleeping soared on, and when I awoke I knew with detailed accuracy what the trees and houses looked like from above.

One evening, a feeling of exultation filled me and I knew with a sudden convincing clarity that I was on the threshold of achieving my dream.

I rejoiced in the chill of the cement under my bare feet as I stood with my heels lifted and toes pressing down, my elbows close against my sides, my forearms turned outwards, my hands opened horizontally. I was waiting for a signal which I knew would come to me to launch myself forward.

It came, on a sweet current of air: my toes touched the ground a dozen times or so, my hands rose and fell, with my indrawn breath came a sense of buoyancy, and like a feather wafted upward I was off the ground, sailing through space! When I touched down again it was with a small jolt and quick, jerky steps, as when one alights from a moving vehicle.

My experience could not have endured more than an instant, in distance a few paces, but while it lasted I dwelt in infinity. The sensation was indescribable, rapturous, mysterious, frightening.

I was still in the grip of my emotions when, as from a distance, I heard cries of fear. With a rush of feet and swirl of skirts (my nanny) Estelle’s arms were clutching me. Her eyes were wide and her voice hollow as she cried:’What is dis t’ing yo’ done, chil’? Dis is a bad t’ing yo’ do! Yo’ is nebber, nebber to do dis t’ing again! - yo’ hearing’ what I say?’

I never flew again either in fact or fancy. I had touched something which filled me with ecstasy - yet filled me also with a sense of dread.”

(taken from “Child of the Tropics”, edited by Nicholas Guppy, Yseult’s brother, and published by Aquarela Galleries 1988)

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