As the deadened module scuttled into space,
so did the commander’s last moon-dreams
of touching down on the rocky face.
Shivering, he wished again the accident
might have been a meteoroid like first thought,
anything but a problem embedded in
the wiry systems of men,
his widespread, hilly visions of stepping
onto the Fra Mauro highland crater now
as faint as Houston’s voices in his head.
Can lifelong dreams jettisoned ever be retrieved?
He drew on the air through his suit-return hose,
engines firing to speed the journey home;
the moon, their discus-thrower,
hurled the life-boat earth-bound.
Below, someplace where the brown shores met blue,
the sleepless, sweat-browed men
of ground control
clutched their calculations and pencils so hard,
the figures blurred, the lead snapped.
Splashdown in the Pacific:
a successful failure.
The dreams of men ignite under pressure,
meet in the invisible realm
apart from earth, apart from space,
shape-shift to chart the new course,
burn to speed the return of the human race.