Writing Prompt

Imagine you’re an astronaut stuck in outer space. And it’s just you. Only you. What would you write about? What

do you see outside your spaceship windshield? What do you miss? Who is your brother now, all those miles down? Where’s west? What would you have brought, had you known you would be out here, maybe forever, all by yourself?

What about regret? What if 

there are whole days where you don’t think of your hands? How closely related 

is loneliness to remembrance?—when you let yourself think about it?

Do the stars feel heavier now? 

Is there, truly, anything you would do over?—knowing everything you know now? If regret was a type of animal, any animal, what song would it sing in you?

Outside are all these tiny windows you can’t look through. 

Do you miss having a sky to throw wishes against? What did it look like last?—describe the blue. 

What phrases do you miss people saying? By “people” I mean: 

write about something small—but with great detail—about everyone you love. 

What blurs then builds a forest inside you? Is that too specific? Pretend 

it’s summer again and that you’re the fire for it—would it even be worth writing about? 

Would you, by now, meaning in outer space, and very much alone, want to replay the moments of your life you wished had gone differently?—Or have you gotten over it all already? What stage are we in? Is being stuck in space like dying and not getting to ghost-visit your own funeral? Which is the first moment you’d go back to in order to change it? By it I mean where the regret sprang from. Would you feel bad about the rippling? Is worry just a wider room? There is always a box in which regret will fit. After you tape it shut, describe the sound. Describe the blue.

Copyright © 2023 by Michael Torres. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 26, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets.