NASA Video Transmission Picked Up By Baby Monitor

Instead of her little one nestled between the purple
elephant from Aunt Meg and the blanket knitted
by Tricia, the new mother glances up to see a space
station—tattooed by a meteorite—
now plummeting toward Hamtramck, Michigan.

Maybe she feels the same terror I felt when I sat
in a theater as a child. A man in a black tuxedo
staggered across the stage, removed his gloves
and tossed them into the audience, gloves as black
as piano keys that shrieked above us, became
two fuming ravens that flapped around the room
and circled the chandeliers. Plato says
we live in a cave and stare at a wall of shadows
cast by the light outside. We name the shapes
and believe them real. Turn around and the sun
blackens the pupil. I’ve known people, afraid of the sun,
who opened their eyes to God, but found only
a wine cellar lit by a guttering lamp. There’s so much
to be afraid of, so much to gaze at and be wrong about.

How many shadows are left to name? Logophobia
is the fear of words. Keraunothnetophobia
is the fear of falling man-made satellites. Imagine
how a woman might walk out and look to heaven
for the sky lab plunging down on her—
wires everywhere, bolts loosening, metal body in flames.
But, she sees only blue, endless blue, the color
of a baby’s new blanket, cloaking everything.

Matthew Olzmann was a 2006 and 2007 Kundiman Fellow. His work has recently appeared in The Cortland Review, Pebble Lake Review, American Poetry Journal, Cranky, 88 and elsewhere. Currently, he is a student in the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College. (olzmann47@hotmail.com)

Boxcar Poetry Review - ISSN 1931-1761