Rocket Girl
Edison Jennings

for Lucy and Beth


Cindy Shepard—I remember—
gold hair, brown eyes, soft voice,
a smell like toast and apples,
what I ate each morning—
the classroom sweet with Cindy,
where, one day, when asked
our fathers’ occupations, Cindy said,
a spaceman, and suffered mocking
from her groundling classmates. 
But I stayed quiet, and on the bus
that circumsailed our orbit,
I told her I believed her, 
because I couldn’t in much else.
Years later, Commander Shepard
rode a Redstone into space,
and my own trajectory carried me
to distant schools, and Cindy became
Connie, Caroline, and Sheila,
became the smell of toast and apples
my daughter eats for breakfast, a moon
that wanders wider every year,
my gravity diminished, my orbit
more elliptic, the sun’s grip growing
weaker, stars more than ever kin,
as I drift closer, devoted spaceman,
to worlds where trees bear golden fruit
plucked by golden sisters.

Previously published in Southern Review, 2008

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