Watching the Astronauts
Is this what the body dreams for itself—
to float like Chagallís lover, propelled
by whim or intention to any curvature
of space? Here on the earth where
weight defines us and things stay
where they are put—rock solid,
sure-footed, feet-on-the-ground, we watch rapt,
the erratic path of a wind drift
plastic bag above a gusty city street.
Or falling asleep, we learn again
to fly. Between the prebirth amniotic lilt
and the final matterless floating away, we learn
to praise and curse the time-bound
present, with its awful weight of being.
Dreaming always of height and distance
we build pyramids, obelisks, steeples; loft
kites, balloons, airplanes, and now, built
on the broken bones of centuries, this
improbable assembly of space-borne tin cans
in which a chosen few are permitted, for
a time at least, to defy all laws and float free
with their astonished bodies.