Friday, August 2, 2019

In Praise of Apollo


I wake my mother from an afternoon nap

to ask for a dime.

Groggy, she gives it, and I

tape it to the postpaid card.

Soon, the model arrives,

the Lunar Module that

had landed a few weeks before,

five inches high when completed.

I am not a model builder, or even

an aspiring astronaut.

Women since Amelia Earhart

can barely hope to fly,

much less leave the atmosphere, weightless,

dependent on tanks for air,

tubes for dinner.

Their landing, first walk

are broadcast late at night.

Despite the history, my parents

don’t let us stay up to see.

It is summer, and no excuse of

having to get up for school.

I am seven, my sister five and a half,

my brother just turned three.

Later, he becomes the stargazer in the family,

rootless, following the sun,

Hollywood Boulevard his landing strip.

Perhaps the memory of that first Apollo

is still too vivid with them,

grim death on the ground,

all three lost to oxygen’s raging flames.

Tragedy is a constant in the Sixties,

a given on the Nightly News.

At the age of five, I saw David Brinkley

reporting from in front of the

charred remains of that first mission.

So, they spare us the possible nightmare,

Armstrong’s misspoken words.

Maybe it’s best to not get our hopes up,

seeing how space travel has done

so much better in the movies.

Even the military’s lost interest,

prefers cheap, plentiful recruits,

the idle threat of nuclear annihilation

to exploration, cooperation,

looking for our next home.

After my model arrives, a book a month comes,

science topics in slender soft covers that fit

in the same slipcovered case.

I never finish the model,

read the books without much interest.

I missed the fine print on that postcard,

thought a single dime would open up

the universe to me, postpaid.

I thought that, for a moment,

I too could fly, wings spread

wide over the Everglades,

uterus forgiven.

CAR  7/16/19

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