“Love in the Cold War”

July 20, 2014

July 20, 1969: Neil Armstrong became the first human to walk on the moon. I was 17, and Carl and I were in love. We watched the moon landing on television, each of us in our own homes, talking to each other on the phone as a way to share the experience. Carl took pictures of the TV with his camera. Later, I wrote this poem:


Love in the Cold War

The man on the moon giant-leaped across
the screen, a lunar version of a child’s game

of permissions, his mission: put Sputnik in its place;
ladder down from pod to crater to recreate the great-

ness that was us (and in the nick of time, for the decade
was about to end, as the now dead president had said.)

In separate dwellings on far sides of town, we beheld
the spectacle, ears to phones, eyes to tubes, connected by the next

to impossibility of such before us, above us, perplexed
by the tranquil sea in the cold war ingrained in us. We snapped

pictures of pictures, shots of the shot, grainy images in black
and white of an icy orb of dark and light, in cosmic disbelief.

It did not matter much to us that gravity was absent,
that war was hell and space expensive. We stored the photos

with diplomas, proof not of astronomic savvy or diplomatic
strategy, but our own Lake Erie Camelot, saved

to show those who bounced into our arms, strong
souls whose own unsteady steps inspired treasured prints.

I don’t recall if we believed Neil’s promenade, surpassing
fantasy, trespassed on our claim. Our adolescent love, declared

beneath Selene, was fresh but not some phase, our footprints
mingling in the grains of sand no less historic, no less grand.

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