Apollo 13

Connecticut, toward the end of the last century

“Watch where you’re going!” A row of red cones
(One mashed flat as a puck), the turning trees
Covered in white dust, and a pile of stones.
“Did you hear me? I was saying…” Our sleeves
Flutter and flap. “…when they walked on the moon…”
Tap brakes…change lanes…forty-five…thirty…soon
We’re idling through colossal parking lots.
On foot for the last stretch to the marquees:
They’ve come in droves to see the astronauts.

“Space is nothing.” “Why?” “Why can’t you just
Adjust to what a miracle life is?—
Space is nothing.” “Except the mindful dust,
Which turns eventually into this.”
“What?” “Your hand. This multiplex. The sapphire
Globe and ‘Strawberry Fields.’”
……………………………………………………..The crew misfire,
Must sling their bodies with the moon’s tight pull
Between unearthly Scylla and Charybdis.
We sip our Cokes and watch the earth grow full.

The big screen hangs suspended like a sheet.
Then Odyssey at last comes splashing down—
In time to sweep the popcorn from the seat.
“That was dramatic. Me…I’d rather drown
Than die out there, floating frozen, forever.”
“But death is, well, beyond us. We can never
Reach it anyway.” “Tell me what you mean.”
“I mean that privately it can’t be known.”
Outside the moon is wiping its dull sheen

On Venus and some noncommittal stars.
The cars are filing out in long red curves,
And winding in like insects caught in jars.
A line of boxcars hauls the night’s reserves.
“It can’t be known? But if we wake into
Another life, will this seem false or true?”
Grind the ignition, check the mirror, drive.
“You and your talk.”
………………………………. A gasoline truck swerves—
Just missing. “Don’t we talk to stay alive?”

Lee Oser

Lee Oser

Lee Oser is the Vice President of the ALSCW. He is the author of three novels, including Oregon Confetti (Wiseblood Books), named by Commonweal as one of its top books of 2017. His fourth book of literary criticism, The Christian Humanism of Shakespeare, is due to press next year.
Lee Oser

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Author: Lee Oser

Lee Oser is the Vice President of the ALSCW. He is the author of three novels, including Oregon Confetti (Wiseblood Books), named by Commonweal as one of its top books of 2017. His fourth book of literary criticism, The Christian Humanism of Shakespeare, is due to press next year.