by Madeline Torrez


in the years of swing & sinatra

nobody told the wives

that the astronauts could die


but what with flight testing

& the wars, the wives knew

more than they wished to know

of how bravery & curiosity

are a dangerous mix,


how the mind likes to reach

out past the clouds,

stroke angel's wings & come

crashing back to the shore

in foam & smoke & bits of metal;


the wives, too, have tasted

the air of the ionosphere,

have had their lungs wrap

themselves around their heart

as the module plummets

back into saltwater spray,


the women, too, have learned

to fly with wings of their own,

& watched the earth shrink

under the grinding shake

of jet propulsion & gravity's

slipping grasp,


the women, too, have been fitted for

lunar grey gloves & gold visors,

have practiced the worst

& the best, time & time again,

they, too, have spun, jumped,

fallen, & glided. they, too,

stand beside armstrong and glenn

in booster orange and jumpsuit blue,


the women, too, are tasting

the bitter & bold of bravery

& curiosity, steaming &

untainted like black coffee

in the afternoon, & the women,

too, are learning the thrill

of exploration.

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