Thursday, July 16, 2009

Above the Dark Side of the Moon

Above The Dark Side of the Moon

Forty years ago I slept soundly
in the screened porch of a ramshackle cabin
fitful south by southwest breeze blowing
glare of the lighthouse beacon
turning like clockwork across the wall.

Sixty miles above the far side of the moon
Aldrin and Armstrong sailed a fragile boat of gold foil
and stared at fields of boulders below.

On the appointed day, we joined lobstermen
and the sons of lobstermen dressed
in their Sunday finest,
and paraded to an old two story house
gingerbread trim worn by weather and time.

Invited by twin spinster sisters,
who owned one of the two TVs on Swan’s Island,
we filed in to behold it,
doily topped and dusted in the spotless parlor.

With drama tense as Hitchcock
we watched anxious faces at Mission Control
chain smoke violently as their boys’ fuel ran low
I clutched my model of the shuttle from 2001 A Space Odyssey
solemnly noting the difference between
slick craft and baling wire and duct tape Eagle.

Above the Sea of Tranquility,
the boys were jolted by an alarm so esoteric
no one knew what it meant until a young engineer
determined it was a computer
shrieking of command overload.
“We’ve got you,” Houston assured finally,
“We’re go on that alarm.”

I watched Adam’s apples bob under
stoic New England faces of men
who routinely faced death in lobster boats
so Boston fat cats could enjoy their three pounders.

Meanwhile the computer lead the lads ever closer
to moon rock shoals; so Armstrong,
heart skipping along at 156 beats per minute
did as any pilot of old; he took the con
calmly announced, “I found a good spot,”
and brought the Eagle safely in to her berth.

As I watched a tiny bouncing figure descend
to the moon’s surface, I thought of how much
it looked like the marionettes from Stingray,
almost expecting Armstrong to turn and say
“Stand by for action!”

But of course instead he spoke poetry
though it was Buzz Aldrin’s comment
upon his first view from the surface
that I recall most; he called it
“Magnificent desolation.”

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