Barely broke the sun lay
snowlike upon the bitten ground,
the near Aegean heard, unfed,
dwelt: the world
is seen to its conclusion.
The long walk is not long
nor lonely, the room freundlich.
Such a gas after years of graft
to be dragged from bondage
supine as Hector, and securely.
One last check for Castor, a rap
of the dial, one last bolt
from mission control.
I have wanted to extend this moment
before I am an American
atom of von Braun, his uppermost spoil
a clearing or two in my chest hair.
Lungs to breathe me out, thumbs
to snap my sides together.
Light as rough as coal, though
the weather is cooperating.
The boxed voice trying to
sound bored – cattle through
a herd of trees, a head
slipped into a ring.
All my doing staying still, its painted flex
and dome of beats and persuasions,
spotted rose and barbecues,
a heart that blew like a deskjob.
With my back to gravity
and my feet in the grave.
The pilot is dead, long live
Edwin Evans-Thirlwell (he/him) is a writer from London who tweets as @dirigiblebill. The above
poems are from a pamphlet about constructions of identity during NASA’s Mercury and Gemini missions. They draw on reading of Michael Collins’s memoir Carrying the Fire: An Astronaut’s Journeys and Rene Carpenter’s columns for Life Magazine.