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Poetic License: Where Was I On July 20, 1969

By Staff | Jul 29, 2011

On the eve of my thirty-ninth birthday,

wheeling the TV cart into the living room

of my center hall colonial with my wife and in-laws

and my eldest daughter Randy on her grandfather’s lap,

(four year old Allegra asleep in her room),

five pairs of human eyes drinking in the incredible – men on the moon,

greatest scientific feat of all time, and I still struggling

with the rabbit ears antenna to make the image clearer;

Armstrong’s carefully prepared “one step, one leap” metaphor

milking in best Madison Avenue style the great moment for what

it would always be worth;

my father-in-law and I engaged in speculation

about how Jewish astronauts could observe Rosh Hodesh,

or say the prayer to the new moon while standing on it,

my daughter interrupting, “Grandpa, I know the prayer by heart;”

then all of us quiet for a long time —

my last hope that it might be a hoax gone,

I felt bereft – beauty and belief

and fancies once owned proudly

now replaced by a lifeless sphere;

next day, my birthday, having been declared Moon Day,

the New York Times printed its special edition

with several poems by poets, including Archibald Macleish,

some acclaiming the achievement, others lamenting the loss,

a feast for poets but my muse silent, lifeless.

Since then, the moon reminds me

from time to time that on that day

a member of my species trampled on her face,

violating with one irreverent step a million years of magic

and myth and wondrous gazing –

brother Apollo’s module chariot pulling from afar

and away from us the last ebb of silver dream.