What child doesn’t want to grow up to be an astronaut?
My parents come from different worlds.
And I am the marriage of their exploration.
My father told me stories of this place —
so beautiful at arm’s length —
he said my job will be to photograph the history of water.
And in many ways, I did. This place, its jagged scars,
its red mask of dust,
the poles as cold and remote as the valley of stars.
I am lucky to be born an astronaut, bright and indestructible.
As long as there is sun above me I am endless.
I salute the red flag in the sky. Begin again.
In hindsight, my half-sister is not as enormous
as I remember. Then again, what astronaut
doesn’t tower above a twelve-year-old?
My sister’s name is Opportunity.
Her body stretches over the Atlantic, so tall
I still bend in her shadow.
I was born in the coldest, darkest regions of the map.
I am two years old, my mother scoops me up
and we flee to America.
She would have said differently —
it was a voyage, an adventure,
every pilgrim, an explorer when the lights are on.
They tell me I’ve won a contest.
The power of so few words to move a nation.
To send its iron child into space darkness.
It staggers the mind.
I’m twelve years old. They tell me I’ve won a contest.
I watch my Spirit rise above the Earth.
I never look at the stars the same way again.
There, in the face of infinite nothing, a Voyager
a dream of distant sky
My family gathers in the Darkroom.
Our child is missing, presumed dead.
Many of us will never break bread
with this beaming baby girl.
We tell stories of her adventures, we mourn her passing.
Someone calls her up on the phone one last time,
at least to hear her voice in the static snow
of the answering machine. Our daughter,
tucked tightly in her blanket of rust.
One day, when our grandchildren take to the sky
they will marvel at her body, or else the planet
that became her body. The last leg of a mighty race.
They will say Thank God.
Her body doubled as its own monument.
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:
he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth
my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake. Yea, though I walk
through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil: for thou art with me
The planet has been dreaming of my burial since June.
My memory is playing hide and seek with the rust.
I cannot picture the sky.
I can’t un-Earth myself.
My father told me about this place.
I used to dream of it when I was young and could remember
any color but red.
This little island with no map-makers, waiting to whisper
its history of water.
This is the history.
The scars of perseverance.
A reverse Atlantis. The island from which all water
Left nothing but a memory of Oasis.
A Polaroid painted with thirst.
This will be my legacy.
One morning, greenside of the Atlantic,
my half-sister/mother/lover will look up at the sky
and see my face.
The swiss-army wife.
Saluting like an obelisk to her last memory of water.
I’ll find you in the morning sun
And when the night is new
I’ll be looking at the moon
But I’ll be seeing you
The night NASA said goodbye to Oppy [Medium]
Six things to know about NASA’s Opportunity Mars rover [NASA]
Alyx Jordan has been writing poetry since graduating with a BFA in Theater from Clark University. They make a living, here and there, as a teacher or—more often than not—a server in some diner or other. Mostly, they write about their complicated relationship with Cuban heritage, or else the view from their porch, whenever they can slip in the time.