POETRY

New NASA Missions Rendezvous with Moon

By

I. Pre-launch

Countdown: T-minus seven, six, five, four….
The camera’s posed. The moon can cast its spell.
Right at the perfect time, the two will score
The evidential view: they’re doing well,
Better together. Maybe now they’ll find
The life source, water we all need, the sign
We should all be over the moon, and grind
It out, rock solid, every night: resign
Ourselves to nature. At the camera’s tine
And probing, the moon doesn’t appear to notice—
Not taken off guard, not scared in all that dark.
You like a mission and a man. Play Otis
Redding’s “My Lover’s Prayer” to strike a spark.
Pray, what you gonna to do tonight? You’ve toyed
Where there is space. There is, no doubt, a void.

II. Contact

Where there is space there is no doubt: avoid
The physics, up the possibilities
Of failure. Once each atom, so devoid
Of size, swells with the charging chemistries,
(And vodka flows) there is no hope. You’re screwed:
Inertia interrupted, senses dulled,
Intentions cheapened, school girl crush renewed.
In a matter of minutes, you’ve been nulled
To nonexistence. Now is not “before.”
And details just don’t matter: who or whom.
Countdown: T-minus seven, six, five, four.
Let in embarrassment and then resume
The mission. Success? Results too soon to view.
But where there’s space, there is, no doubt, a clue.

III. A hit?

But where there’s space there is no, doubt, a clue
Something’s not right. Up at the moon’s South Pole,
Right where the camera tilled, it’s black and blue—
Space’s unending shadow where the sun can’t bite
Off pieces for illumination. And,
Up there, distance is short, inches not miles.
Try to see and not know where you’ll land.
You’ll find a crater near the rising piles
Of ice, water that lost its way and course.
How cold. -308 degrees.
The cold is bigger than the moon’s own force;
And our survival hides in the craters’ breadth.
Though, where there’s space, there is, no doubt, a death.

IV. A hit

Where there is space, there is, no doubt, a death
In the afternoon, a pre-work fuck. You’re still
In honeymoon-like heaven: heavy breath,
Body on body, energy to kill.
You watch his every movement, and his mission
Control. His muscles flex and slack and he
Chews plastic bottle caps. You are submission:
The Santeria smitten Shiva she
Who needs no sustenance, can walk on water,
Fly high sans happy pills, picture a white
Ball gown, I dos, the “aww” father and daughter
Dance, and the toast. You’re dancing just as light
As Ginger. But, each mission is a tryst.
Where there is space, there is, no doubt, a twist.

V. Houston…

Where there is space, there is, no doubt, a twist
Of fate: Columbia, the Challenger,
Missions aborted, landing targets missed:
The universal principles astir.
Clotho, Lachesis, Atropos irate
Knowing how Centaurus, the constellation,
Is poised—all systems go—to obliterate
Dying white dwarfs. Or a nightly demonstration
Of how a cloud can just eclipse a star?
The moon eclipse your world to where’d it go?
The moon a stranger, sitting way too far
Away, unrecognizable, seconds ago
So bright, it’s haunting: there, there, gone. It’s stark
Where there is space. There is, no doubt, an arc

VI. …we have a problem

Where there is space. There is, no doubt, an arc
Of narrative: first there, then now, silence
And silencing progressions of the dark,
Away from missions with all the violence
Of smashing lips, clothes torn, legs splayed across
A naked mattress. This story is the land
Of climax, denouement, and albatross.
You’ve claimed your stake. And now, there is no hand-
Holding, and nothing speaks but a fountain’s splash
Below, loud as moon-pulled tides clipping shores.
From lust and dust to dusty to flame the ash—
Your space is walls and tables, chairs and doors.
You did not know that it would come to this.
Where there is space, there is, no doubt, a miss.

VII. Re-entry

Where there is space, there is, no doubt, amiss
Or not, an optimism: future flight,
For mankind yet another step, the bliss
Of some uncharted territory. Night-
Eclipsing shadows never look to be
A saving grace. And now you have some distance.
Solitude’s endless time becomes your sea
Of no tranquility. Rip tides, resistance.
Faint Venus, broken capillary Mars—
Fuck looking at the stars. Look at the hoar-
frost when winter comes back. Then, what was ours
Is yours. Your stomach drops. You wish your core
Was hot as the sun. You have a chance. No more.
Countdown. T-minus seven, six, five, four…..

Erica Dawson is the author of two books of poetry: The Small Blades Hurt (Measure Press, 2014) and Big-Eyed Afraid (Waywiser, 2007). Her poems have appeared in Best American Poetry, Barrow Street, Harvard Review, Virginia Quarterly Review, and other journals and anthologies. She lives in FL, where she's an Assistant Professor of English and Writing at The University of Tampa, and teaches in both the undergraduate and low-residency MFA programs.

Where there is space. There is, no doubt, an arc
Of narrative: first there, then now, silence
And silencing progressions of the dark,
Away from missions with all the violence
Of smashing lips, clothes torn, legs splayed across
A naked mattress. This story is the land
Of climax, denouement, and albatross.