TO AN ASTRONAUT DYING
Maxine W. Kumin
tell us: are you dead yet? the elephant ears of our radar still read you, wobbling over our heads like a baby star. they say you will orbit us now once every ninety minutes for years. and nothing about you will rot in your climate. || down here it is spring. whole townships huddle outdors in the evening, round eyed as the cattle once were, but this time watching and waving as your light winks overhead, as it tilts and veers to the west. you sit in the contour chair that fitted your torso best || but by summer, who will still think to measure your perigee? only the faithful few who set up a rescue committee. || such ingenuity! think now; can God have invented it? we know that when planes crack open and spill the unlucky ones out, || there are tag ends to go on. He stands to pick up the pieces we label, and grieving, hand back to His care at requiem masses. || even the dead at sea have a special path to His bosom. combing the mighty waves, He grapples up souls from the bottom. || but there you go again, locked up in your perfect manhood, coasting beyond the reach of the last seraph in the void. || not one leviating saint can rise from the golden pavement high enough over the ridgepole to yank you back into His tent. || this was a comfortable kingdom, the dome of it tastesfully pearled till you cut loose. your kind of death is out of God's world..