Thirteen ways of looking at an astronaut

By | 1 February 2020

(after Wallace Stevens’ Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird)

Among the panoply of stars
The only moving thing
Was the mind of the astronaut.

I was of three minds
As at first sight of a space-station
Crewed by two astronauts.

The astronaut tumbled slowly in the void beyond Earth.
She was the foreground to a cosmic pantomime.

Below, the lands and the seas and the clouds
Are one.
The lands and the seas and the clouds and the astronaut
Are one.

I do not know which to prefer,
The volumetrics of the Tuscan column,
Or the voluptuousness of the dirigible,
The astronaut’s igniting propulsion unit
Or just after.

The Earth filled the impenetrable visor
With its sea-shepherd blue.
The reflection of the astronaut
Crossed it, to and fro.
The ache
Traced in the reflection’s antumbra
An unfathomable cause.

O ignorant and rapacious men destroying forests
In the Amazon, smudging archipelagos in Asia.
Why do you imagine golden locusts shall fill your coffers?
Do you not see the astronaut
On bended knees observing your desecrations.

I know the beauty of symmetry in equations
And lucidity in columns of algorithms;
But I know, also,
That the astronaut is involved
In what I know.

When the Earth vectored out of sight
The astronaut became the pale
Marking the latest frontier.

At the sight of the astronaut
Brightling in the feint blue light,
Even the epics of Homer
Would recede to nursery tales.

The astronaut slowly cartwheeled over continents
In her space-shroud.
Once, a fear pierced her,
In that she mistook
A malfunction in the voice communications
For a loss of pressure.

The light of the world is moving.
The astronaut must be vectoring in space.

It was darkness all day and every day.
It was silent
And it was going to remain silent.
The astronaut suspended
In the royal-jelly of space.

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