50 years since the first moon landing. What of Michael Collins, who stayed on board Apollo 11..?

MICHAEL COLLINS

MICHAEL COLLINS ORBITS THE MOON

I am elected watchman. It’s my lot
to turn and turn in my tiny cradle. Not
my fortune or my obligation
to first-foot the moon or talk of it to nations.

Not for me grey beach or empty ocean,
not for me earthlight or the silent locomotion
of the stars. Uncrowded by the voices
of the world I slip away. The world rejoices

and I fold myself into the secret night
behind the moon. Afloat in amniotic light
I remain an embryo, a diagram, a plan.
This egg will carry me unborn while man

takes giant steps below. But unevolved, unhatched,
Columbia and I become initials scratched
on incomprehensible darkness. I’m serene
in my awful solitude, turning through this lane between

the impassive weight of galaxies and the husk
of the moon. I close my eyes; a kind of dusk
prevails, half-recollection of diurnal time,
a rhythm bound into the rhyme

of seasons. And I dream of the grass
of prairies, lost highways that pass,
relentless and unbending, by abandoned outposts,
forts and cowtowns whose brave boothill ghosts

still ride the range; the empty-hearted homesteads
whose screendoors bang on windy nights; dry riverbeds
enclosed by old barbed wire, and oil-well donkeys, one end
gazing at the sand, the other at the stars. Old trails bend

and turn upon themselves and men and women pause
inside their journeys, build fences, write down laws
and call their scratches in the sand Jerusalem.
But clear night brings the stars – still over Bethlehem

or singing like a choir in Cassiopeia. And I ride
Columbia back into the hard blue scrutiny of earth. The tide
of their voices wakes me. Exultant, I invoke the charter
of my race: small steps like mine are mighty steps, ad inexplorata.

From ANCIENT LIGHTS by Dick Jones.

 

About Dick Jones

I'm a post-retirement Drama teacher, currently working part-time. I have a grown-up son and daughter, three grandchildren and three young children from my second marriage. I write - principally poetry but prose too, both fitfully published. My poetry collection Ancient Lights is published by Phoenicia Publishing (www.phoeniciapublishing.com) and my translation of Blaise Cendrars' 'Trans-Siberian Prosody and Little Jeanne from France' (illustrated by my friend, the artist, writer and long-time blogger Natalie d'Arbeloff) is published by Old Stile Press (www.oldstilepress.com). I play bass guitar & bouzouki in the song-based acoustic/electric trio Moorby Jones, playing entirely original material (https://www.facebook.com/moorbyjones?ref=aymt_homepage_panel + http://www.moorbyjones.net/). I play the same instruments in the Celtic/English/Americana/acoustic ambient trio Escher's Dream. (https://www.facebook.com/Eschers-Dream-102838891097545/?modal=admin_todo_tour) I have a dormant blog with posts going back to 2004 at Dick Jones' Patteran Pages - http://patteran.typepad.com - and I'm a radio ham. My callsign is G0EUV
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1 Response to

  1. Pingback: Poetry Blog Digest 2019: Week 27 – Via Negativa

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