Sacrifice for the Future Astronaut

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

            Every night at six, my parents return from a moon
            and dust off their spacesuits at the garage door.

Their commute back is as much work as the mission;
            with a well-dented rocket, they keep their distance

            from dozens of other moons they don’t want to revisit

and the world’s largest satellite celebrating

            the first dog to orbit Earth, who sits next to her bowl.

            My parents are thirsty when they come home.

My mother goes for a glass of water, my father
            cracks the Budweiser. They don’t grunt once

            their butts hit the couch. Many things have fallen out
of their pockets—keepsakes from past lunar trips—

            like sutures and bullets and runny-ink pamphlets
            passed out at their fathers’ funerals. The news is on

and the news is dead, dead, dead, dead,

            then more airtime for white supremacy,

            the belief its own moon. My parents don’t scream.

They yawn quietly, rub their eyes, and stretch

            before they envelop me with careful arms,
            nodding at the TV, nodding at my stammering,

but they’re blunt—terrible men pop up every now and then.

            We go to the backyard to tend our garden
            and I ask them what they’ve gone through, which moons.

When the time comes, they’ll let me know.

            The sky is full of red, their eyes are full of red.

            I want to hold them. But they’re too selfless to be held.

They don’t want me to feel the weight.