Shining Rock Poetry Anthology

"To Orbit the Earth" by Michele Wolf

The steel capsule, ridged and riveted--an oversize
Can--rests suspended at street level, docked
Inside the Air and Space Museum's entrance.
A bounty of white lilies mingled with spider mums,
Placed yesterday, honors the trail of pilot John Glenn,
Dead at ninety-five. In '62, even a second grader,
Gripped by the grainy blastoff in black and white,
Knew that the compact can was a bleak conveyance,
That that helmeted dad, a human Superman laced up
In a silver suit, could at any moment be lost in flames.

And yet we launch from terra firma, compelled to behold
The blue orb--its panorama of oceans as they curve
From continent to continent. It knocks you down,
This vision, your ache to enfold the globe in your arms.
It is that child who slips into the darkness, sounding
A cry you cannot ease, although you circle round and round.

This poem originally appeared in Painted Bride Quarterly.

Michele Wolf is the author of two books of poetry, Immersion (2011), winner of the Hilary Tham Capital Collection prize, from The Word Works, and Conversations During Sleep (1998), winner of the Anhinga Prize for Poetry.

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