Dogs 2007

T MINUS ME
(4/18/07)


it was night
and all around
bright metal reflected
in the floodlights
but beyond
all was black

wind whipped
a misty vapor
that seemed
to emanate
from a smoking
earth

we walked
toward the rocket
body gleaming silver
and atop
the shiny cylinder
a dark capsule
riveted together
with rusty bolts

the man
to my right
was explaining
that normally
two would travel
in this craft
but the other
had some medical malady
and I would have
to go it
alone

I leaned back
awkwardly
in my spacesuit
to look again
at my lofty
destination
but the angle
of my nearness
prevented
additional inspection
furthering my impression
that I would
disappear
forever
above

we reached
the gantry elevator
and I stopped

the man
who had been talking
grabbed my gloved hand
and began to pull me
toward the conveyance
while
many hands
pushed at my back
forcing me
forward

I tried
to yell at them
through the bubble
on my head
but no one
was looking
and my voice
reverberated
for me alone

I awoke screaming
in a sweat
thrashing
about wildly
then
the stairway light
clicked on
and I could hear
the creak
of the steps
in the old house
as my mother
rushed
to the
second floor

she appeared
as a silhouette
in the doorway
asking
what was wrong

"I don't want
to go into space!"

I said
half sobbing
half insisting
in my fear

"honey
no one
can make you
go into space
if you don't
want to"

she smiled
and I knew that
she was telling
the truth

I was 5
or 6
and had
just watched
with my father
an afternoon launch
of a Gemini mission
televised instead
of the usual
football game

I knew
about rockets
but for the first time
realized
that men
were sitting trapped
toward the top
of those terrible tubes
to be hurled into
the endless void
of space

I would have
never dreamed
that 40 years later
I would be walking
around in my own
personal vacuum
without benefit
of high tech
apparatus

light
years away
my screams
have long
since
died
in the distance