My Atoms Come From Those Stars

by Kirsten Ogden

after Neil DeGrasse Tyson

Yesterday I saw pictures of Pluto photoshopped as the Death Star.
   The stars collapsed inside my father’s pancreas.

It took over four hours for the photographs to return to Earth. 
   My father would think it’s marvelous we’ve developed

a way to send pictures, voices, across the galaxy, 
   But we can’t figure out how to save people.

So sometimes we kill ourselves in tiny little cuts, like a thousand 
   Paper Cranes. We send rocket scientists to the moon.

We send probes to Mars. We cure AIDS. But we can’t feed 
   the homeless people in Santa Monica anymore without

being jailed. I wanted my father that night so I dialed his number 
   but there was no answer. I dialed my mother but she

was dead too. And so I thought about whether someone in the Post Office 
   had figured out how to deliver the cards and letters

I’d written these past few years. There was that one mailman who 
   sent letters addressed to God to Jerusalem for pilgrims

to place at the wall. I thought about how once I sent a letter to God too 
   and I asked for a baby but the baby didn’t come the way

I thought it would. That night I took the stained bedsheets to the washing 
   machines. The stars in Los Angeles were just as bright as

anywhere else I’d seen them. My father and my mother were out there. 
   A homeless man slept beneath a car in the garage of my building.

He tried to hide when he saw me. I stuffed my sheets in a dumpster 
   and when I saw him, I tried to hide too.

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