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Stranded across this floe of ice like eskimos or polar bears, six or seven cars grind gears and growl but will not go. One horn won't stop but shrills like a teapot left too long alone or something wounded in the hills.

Earlier the shuttle flamed and fell and then was still, then flamed and fell, courtesy of NASA and CBS. Bundled in a blanket, I tried reading Winters, how the Macon came unglued and fell with a sound earth had not heard before rose red into the blue Pacific swell.

Then I too rose, put my feet in boots, my head beneath a cap, hands in gloves to walk about in the blue-white cold where snow like fallout fell, then rose with the wind, the air difficult to breathe almost as car exhaust, outer space, or flame, or fear.

I passed the laundromat, its windows steamed, the empty fountain with its litter fish, vacant lots where shops burned brightly once, and the library, where Aphrodite sat. I would have stopped to talk with her, but she was blue, reading poems about Hephaestus, Ares, and herself, and the shuttle was a blur

like blowing snow above me, like the children slipping by, puffing out their loud, wet cheeks to fall in the clean white sky beneath them making angels, mittened heroes of the snowball wars. And though the sun descends safely, the day remains bitter, only sharp blue shadows thrive, and nothing mends.

The shuttle flames and falls all day. Out here, the wind dies, stars arrive, the sky deepens like an unplowed street. Prehistoric cries cut the evening into pieces too scattered to collect. Wet and numb, I leave only lunar footprints, drifting breath behind, tasting the edge of the sky's blue blade.
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Author:Horvath, Brooke
Publication:Chicago Review
Date:Jun 22, 1988
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