Rotund glider
nesting stately among bustling
tourists, your black belly tiled
like turkey feathers swept back
tight against bulging girth,

you are pretty as a gift bow
on a tax form.

Sleek on blueprints, bold
on budget projections,
reusable shuttle
seemed a smart buy for Nixon:
did he see you in vision
basted by muggy Floridian air?

Still, you satisfied
boys who poster
bedroom walls
with rockets aflame
rising at night.

They spared no expense
to make you routine,
stuffed you again and again
with satellites and science,
circling overhead
three moonless decades
for exploration’s sake.

America’s space fowl

Like so many others,
I blanched at Obama taking you
out of the oven so soon after
W ordered you butchered,
baked and carved.

Suddenly they started
grabbing for pieces of you:
so disregarded in life; so craved in death.

Such an honor to present
a dead bird
at the center
of a crowded table
ringed with young gawkers,
snapping selfies before
a lavish spread.
Parents sigh at what they’ve made.

I miss you flying,
miss your poster
on a boy’s wall, telling him
to dream, to seek, to be!
Y’know they all agree
you’re remarkable.

In the pan, I slide beneath you
as a mushed crouton.

Poet’s Notes:

This week’s poem is the product of a writing exercise I’m calling, “What would Margaret Atwood do?” I read several of this award-winning author’s poems. Zeroing in on one I loved, I analyzed it and then tried to emulate it. The poem I used for a guide can be read freely online at the Poetry Foundation: Backdrop addresses cowboy. It’s a great piece and quite accessible.

Image and video by Jake Christensen, during a visit to the Space Shuttle Pavilion at the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum Complex in New York City.