Tag Archive | space shuttle

Giveth, Taketh


I stepped into the waiting room a bit late
Sorry, I’m late, my appointment is for…
Take a seat, someone will be with you shortly.
Sat down, waited
Waited for the intake clerk to call my name

Put on this gown
Take off everything from the waist up
Store your clothes in this locker
Don’t forget to take the key
I locked my upper coverings in the locker
And sat quietly for my turn
Locked up my straining emotions

When the news came last month
That I had to go for extra tests
More views and an ultrasound
Breast cancer, an epidemic,
I didn’t panic
I traveled to Florida first
To see Atlantis, the last space shuttle lift off into space
I forced my mind to think of other things
Alligators, eagles, flying fish and rockets
To the moon or bust.
To the moon, Alice!

This bust has been nothing but trouble for me
Buttons that won’t close at the top
Though the bottom fits
Underwires are like wearing prison bars
Staring guy eyes
Mammary glands, how strange
Peculiar to mammals
None for alligators, eagles, or flying fish
How do sea turtles survive without mammary glands?
Mine refused to cooperate for their intended purpose
Suckling my young
As though they were saying,
Hey, we’re here for show
We don’t work for a living
It’s not in our contract.

So as I was saying
I took the extra required views
Actually of the right breast only
The left has been well behaved lately
A painful squeezing of the tissue up against the xray machine
Bam! Zap! Kaboom!
But with menopause, not as painful as before
When my vital tissues were young and more filled with life
The glands are emptying out now, drying up.

And then I waited some more
Longer in the waiting room in my hospital gown
Locker key on a curly chain around my wrist
And waited, waited, waited for the news from the doctor.

In time, the technician came back to see me
Good news, you don’t need an ultrasound
Here’s a paper, keep it for your records
It says you are free of cancer
It was just a shadow on the film
Nothing to be concerned about
Have we done a good job serving you today?
Have you found the waiting room comfortable?
You’ll be mailed a survey about your experience
I hope you agree that we’ve served you well today.

I dressed and returned the key to its rightful locker
And left the hospital
Strolled right out, safe for another year
Putting the whole thing to rest until the next annual scrutiny.

And on the way home,
A hawk flew
Not to the moon
But right into the car traveling in front of me
Strange, I thought hawks were smart
Smart enough to avoid cars
And never fly that low
But I was wrong
The hawk flew straight into the car
Fell under its wheels
Majestic grey and brown feathers shattered
Scattered all around
Like the foam
Falling off the space shuttle
And just like that infamous Columbia foam
That dashed the wings of the shuttle
Dooming it to disintegrate upon reentry into the world
The bird was dashed upon the pavement
Feathers ripped from its body
Quivering, lying in the street
Waiting, waiting, waiting to die.



Florida Revisited


I thought I would write prose about my trip to Florida in July to see the final space shuttle mission. But it turns out that I am more inspired to write poetry about my experience.


Florida Revisited

I sat on the edge of the bayspace-shuttle
In the sandy green weeds
And watched
In near fatal pain and agony
As the liftoff began
Those seconds of flight
3 – 2 – 1 and liftoff
And the horizon filled
With a fiery light
A vertical prayer
Answering my call
Pull away! Set me free!
A vortex of glowing flame
A roar
And then Pele, the goddess of fire
Flung a column
Straight up through the gaseous
Whirls of smoke and steam
Miles of cloud reaching
For eternity
Taking the space vessel
And the fire within me
Shooting it up
To her heavens
Forcing its unnatural path
Pulling against gravity
Shoving through the dense air
And up
Away from me
Leaving an emptiness
A hole in the sky
Where once there was sunlight
And birds, and natural vapors
And agony
Now leaving nothing
No pain
It was carried away
To the vacuum of space
No agony
My agony had no base
No foundation
Once the space shuttle launched
There was nothing to hold it
Nothing to keep it in place
Gravity is not so tough
Einstein would agree
It’s relatively easy to overcome
Unlike the magnetic life force
Of the epic vessel
Compelled to leave this earth
Careening into space
Breaking free
Leaving nothing
No feeling or substance behind

But over time
Pele will be satisfied
She’ll have ripped me sufficiently through
Tortured the vomit-like anguish out of me
Until the next epic flight
Birds will wing back
Filling in that void
Cumulus and nimbus will return
All things natural
Will resume their destined tracks
Though agony is gone for good
Finds a way to return



Blog Night


Captain's chair - wish I had one of these!

Star Trek captain’s chair – wish I had one of these!


It’s Friday night again. Friday night is blog night. Sometimes it’s pizza night too, or sub (grinder, hoagie, submarine sandwich, whatever you call it) night. Once in a while, Friday is Chinese takeout night, though that’s usually reserved for Saturdays. When I was a young adult, Friday was going out on the town night. I wouldn’t have stayed home in front of a computer for anything. Of course, home computers hadn’t been invented then. But the point is not how old I am, but I suppose, how much I’ve changed over time. How staid, how settled, how quiet and domestic I’ve become. So much so, I don’t resent sitting here with my glass of wine and thoughts in my head that I want to put down on virtual paper. No, I’m reasonably happy with my choice.

But, soon I am going to shake things up a bit. I can’t write if there’s nothing inspiring to write about, if I follow the same routines and the same patterns week after week. So here’s my plan. Next week, I’m going down to Florida to witness the Atlantis, the last space shuttle liftoff from Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral. I’m going by myself, no company at all. I may not communicate with anyone. I may decide to be completely alone in the world. To find out if I am lonely or simply alone. Being alone isn’t a bad thing. In fact for an artist or writer, it can be quite refreshing. Loneliness is another thing entirely. I will probably be lonely.

And I may or may not write while I’m there. I may just absorb the event and the wonder of it. I may have a delayed reaction to the scene. Or, I may be inspired to poetry, then and there. Maybe I’ll write a short blog from my smart phone. I don’t know how I’ll feel. That’s part of the draw, to figure out who I am and what I’m made of. What makes a person happy and content? What causes anguish and despair? I hope to find out for myself. Who am I? It is a strange question for a woman of my age to be asking, a woman who remembers a time without computers of any kind. It’s a teenage question, and surely, my character Glory asked it of herself over and over again in PERSEPHONE IN HELL. But I guess that wasn’t enough, the bloody coughing out of my story, painful as it was. The melancholy that washed over me as I wrote it is still present. I still want to find out why. I would like to know why.

So I hope you wish me good journey as I head down to Florida. Remind me to look out for alligators, and to bring sun screen! I hope to come back a more whole, better realized, more self-aware person. A woman more capable of moving forward with joy in her heart. A friend who will choose blogs on some Friday nights, and dancing on others. A movie now and then makes good Friday night entertainment. Or a simple celebration of the Sabbath, which would be a miraculous thing for this woman, who is so set in her non-believing ways.

Atlantis will lift off from earth, the final space shuttle mission, a true end to an era that began when a  home computer was a thing of science fiction and the word blog hadn’t been invented. Forty years ago, Glory was inspired and kept from despair by the landing on the moon. I am inspired and hope to find joy in this final liftoff. One must try. I am reminded of the words of Captain Jean Luc Picard of the starship Enterprise. “Make it so,” he said so many times to his crew. Make it happen. Try your best, with faith that your best is good enough. Make your life worthwhile. That is exactly what I intend to do.