★ ★ ★ ★
Diary of a Russian Cosmonaut
—after Valentin Lebedev, who spent 211 days in space
Tethered three hundred miles
above Earth floating in darkness
and light I spent countless days
and nights looking down as from
a high balcony—
seas, rivers, mountains and islands,
the blue aura of the atmosphere
merging with the blackness of space,
a majestic panorama
on a huge veiled globe—and the more I looked
at clouds the less I understood them.
Where were they going?
Why were they like that?
Thunderstorms bloomed like carnations
trembling in the light.
I had regular rendezvous with beauty
that renewed my spirits.
Aurorae became a game
lights played in silence.
The world is interesting for the man
who can still be surprised.
Light changed to dark
fifteen times a day. Once, I waited
while the sun was still behind the horizon
and suddenly a blue sword
sliced into the Earth
and a smooth blue arc
spread before the dawn.
Later, when the sun came up,
I thought melted copper ran
on the clouds, its warmth licking
the sleeping Earth.
It didn’t matter which country
we were flying over.
We felt close to the whole Earth.
The Earth was inside of us and we were part of it.
Some days we worked so much
we didn’t look out the porthole.
I enjoyed reading newspapers
before going to sleep, even if I’d read it
ten times already.
Sleeping was fun—you slept without tossing
I once dreamed of a bowl
of steaming borsch
with two spoons
of sour cream.
I was struck
by the silence.
I was flying and flying,
with no sensation of flight,
no wind whistled in our ears,
nothing held us down.
On a spacewalk
I thought I opened a door to a log cabin
and brilliant sunlight
rushed in. I burnt my eyeballs
the sun. When I blinked
they felt full
of sand. For fun I donned
a monster mask
and scared Tolia, then we both scared
We made a sign:
Snack Bar open 24 hours.
After five months, I wept
Our fatigue grew because
our interest in work faded.
I didn’t even want to
look out the porthole
We ate the onions
we were supposed
Originally from Canada, Daniel Hudon is an adjunct lecturer in math, astronomy and physics. He writes nonfiction, fiction and poetry. He is the author of The Bluffer’s Guide to the Cosmos (Oval Books, London) and a chapbook of prose and poetry Evidence for Rainfall (Pen and Anvil, Boston). His new book, Brief Eulogies for Lost Animals: An Extinction Reader (Pen and Anvil) was named a “Must Read” in the 2019 Mass Book Awards. He can be found at danielhudon.com, @daniel_hudon and in Boston, MA.
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