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Space and Time

by David Barber

Open-mouthed, I watched
Neil Armstrong calmly land the LEM
in black and white. I was twenty.

The Viking lander sent back postcards
of that rusty, rock-strewn desert
the year I earned my first salary.

I was thirty-two when I got married;
gas giants swelled in Voyager’s optics
and Carl Sagan danced with delight.

Galileo snapped Ida and Dactyl,
an asteroid and its cute baby moon
the month of my daughter’s birth,

the years and the spacecraft just flew by.
This isn’t the future I was promised,
but I loved every episode NASA made for me.

There was a moment there with Cassini
— I was the age at which my father died —
but it dropped in on Titan with time to spare.

Always talk of putting boots on Mars;
Pluto only years away; Life somewhere, in hiding;
as if all our questions have answers.

In 2028, a rock the size of Armageddon
will just give us a miss. There are plans for a visit.
Puzzling to think that I’ll be dead by then.

Copyright © 2011 by David Barber

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