The Launch Sequence

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‘T Minus 5’

They said they should send a poet
to describe the Earth from space.
They thought it might do the world some good:
some betterment, for the human race.

“You know, I think that it’s not too late,”
Some bright arts-graduate said.
“We’ve sent up chimps,” he reasoned,
“So why not a poet instead?”

‘T Minus 4.’

The media thought it was a great idea
and the public was incredibly keen.
They even got seals of approval
from Brain Cox and the Queen.

Teams of engineers came together
to make this wonderful vision a fact,
this coming-together of science and art
in a single magnificent act.

‘T Minus 3.’

So they lured out a poet from hiding
with the promise of worldwide acclaim,
although little in his haste did he realise
that they didn’t mean literary fame.

Even though the suit didn’t fit him
and no one explained the console
the rocket left the atmosphere
with a poet at the controls.

‘T Minus 2’

“It’s beautiful alright,” Was his first thought.
“I’m glad that they picked me to go,
but apart from reporting how poignant it is
what was it they needed to know?”

So he sat there in space for a little while
looking down on the Earth all alone,
and it didn’t take long for it to occur to him:
“How the hell am I meant to get home?”

‘T Minus 1…. and Liftoff.’

They say they sent a poet
to help them understand,
but the poet still wishes they hadn’t
because he doesn’t know how to land.

***

Art by Elena Purlytė at: www.eyesoftrees.wordpress.com

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The Boy by the Perfect Lake

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The boy by the perfect lake
Sits right on the very edge
Leaning forward, he is more above the water than he is on the land.
The lake is flawless, a perfect mirror
reflecting the sun,
and the sky,
and the boy.

His finger hovers above the surface of the lake.
He longs to touch it,
feel the water on his skin
and become one with his own reflection
but he doesn’t dare.
The water is too perfect,
and it does not look warm.

He is afraid his worries will weigh him down,
pull him to the bottom,
that his doubts will drown him
or his problems push him in.
Suddenly afraid he turns, looks behind him
but there is no one there.

He almost gets up, stands up,
walks away from the lake
and goes back the way he came.
Instead, he closes his eyes
and remembers.
Remembers all the times he did not act,
all the people he thought he could not comfort,
all the times he thought that there was nothing he could do.
Maybe he was right
but still.

He takes a deep breath-
-and dives,
taking his reflection by the hand.
The water steals the warmth from his lungs
but he is alive.
His troubles are not gone,
but they can only nibble at his toes like fish
as he slips beneath the mirror’s surface.
Only, it is not a mirror now
it is a battlefield.
The boy dives down and ripples break
as the water goes to war around him.
The sun and sky are ruptured,
once safe and secure and out of reach
now by his very act of diving they are torn
like tattoos on broken skin.

The dive is glorious, a perfect ten
but soon the boy learns:
diving is one thing
and swimming quite another.
The boy struggles.
fights for his life,
out there on the lake
so far now from the shore.
Just in time it comes to him
he finds his stroke, hits his stride
strikes out across the water
and is gone.

As for the lake, it is as it was.
Or, almost as it was.
The mirror has been pieced back together as if from broken pieces
but the water remembers the splash that shattered it.
The sun and sky are not so arrogant now,
and while the lake is still perfect
it will never be quite the same.

***

Art by Elena Purlytė at: www.eyesoftrees.wordpress.com

The Wolf who came to the Door

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The Wolf who came to the Door painting

Once upon a time there was a widow who lived
in a house on a street on a hill.
She was largely content and she didn’t complain
excepting the tenancy bill.

She was largely content and she didn’t complain
she still had her job and her home and her health.
She kept a tight ship and a garden of sorts
for the benefit of none but herself.

But once of an evening when the sky opened up
and the rain on the roof made a din
a wolf knocked on her door with a dripping-wet paw
and asked if he couldn’t come in.

He wiped off his paws and took off his coat,
so he wouldn’t get mud on the floor.
He was oh so civil and very refined,
the wolf who came to the door.

She offered him tea, which he graciously drank
which was no mean feat without thumbs.
Then he curled up by the fire and she in a chair
and they talked about where they were from,

about where they were going, and where they had been.
She asked if he knew a tiger she’d met.
He thought for a moment and then shook his head
saying it’s not the sort of thing he’d forget.

When she awoke in the chair he had let himself out.
She got up and got on with her day,
but hoped he’d come back the next time it rained.
They were friends in a strange kind of way.

And so he did, and they talked, and had tea and the like,
they had wonderful times set in store
but one night when the sky was accursedly dry
regardless he came to her door.

She was as shocked to find he was limping
as she was to see the cuts on his face
but she bandaged them up without panic or pause
and made a splint for his leg in good haste.

They spoke not a word on that dry summer’s night,
which slipped on into a dry summer’s day,
when she realised she’d miss him if he never came back
so she nervously asked him to stay.

At first he was silent, then he limped to her side
and whispered some words in her ear.
She listened, and thought, and at length understood
nodding, and blinking back tears.

The woman’s husband wasn’t the first of her losses
and her dear friend the wolf not the last,
but the woman in that house on that street on that hill
is a woman at peace with the past.

***

Art by Elena Purlytė at:http://www.eyesoftrees.wordpress.com