A tongue of wine curls in slow-motion against the side of a cup.
Aldrin has checked with Armstrong; there is time, time enough
for Communion. He reads from the book of John.
They start to suit up.
“Locks are checked. Blue locks
checked. Lock-locks, red locks, purge locks.”
Oxygen circulates in the tubes of their suits.
There’s silence in a barroom, the flickering screen
a window on a dream. One of six hundred million
Jim holds a cold Bud,
thinks of Nevada desert painted white
as the roof-fan spins and the door of the module swings open.
Diane the waitress rests her chin in her hand
as the snowman climbs onto the ladder.
Wisps of Eagle’s atmosphere rush into the vacuum,
become particles of ice.
Janice and Kris cook up in a spoon.
They’ll come down tomorrow
when it’s done, when rocks and dust
are bagged and tagged.
Kids crayoned rockets are stuck
to classroom walls. Gold-plated visors
reflect unfiltered rays
while Bob is running to a grocery store.
Marie’s says she’s out of diapers
and B.J needs a change.
He buys a pack of Oreos and some Lucky Strikes
as Armstrong bounces on the last rung,
testing to see if he can get back up.
Amphetamine sweat on Nixon’s lip.
In Harpersville a fly is landing
on the back of grandma’s cotton-roughened hand.
Beyond a roll of chicken wire
and a Dodge truck on blocks
a little girl stands on tip-toe
to peer at white ghosts.
One takes off on a slow jog, each stride
launching him into black, suspended on a ballistic arc.
The war is not suspended. Death is not
suspended. GI’s are listening in the jungle.
On death row they listen to the radio.
The little girl’s brother listens in Vietnam
where death is not suspended
as Aldrin hangs mid-stride and lands,
his boot sending a spray of powder
into the Sea of Tranquillity.
by Roy Marshall