Challenger

by | Dec 15, 2023 | Poetry

A night sky over several pine trees.

Three decades later I return
to where I once lived

and drive the twenty-miles,
Port Ludlow to Port Townsend,

past the spot I was passing—
driving our old grey bug

eight months pregnant with my first—
when the news came over the radio.

News I strained to hear, twisting the dial,
thinking first of the teacher astronaut, a young

mother of two. And then, of my unborn child,
safe, contained. In fact, he was kicking me,

seat belt pressing into us. And then,
I kept on driving toward my appointment,

toward my own motherhood. I kept on driving
as the capsule was falling, as the teacher’s

children, husband, parents stood in the stands
watching. Years later I learned that the whole time

the vessel was descending, hurtling toward home,
toward the waiting water, the crew was alive.

Would knowing this have changed anything?
My children are grown now. All those years,

I was guilty of nothing but happiness.
Conifer clouds, sneak peeks of sky.


Photo by Jonathan Miske, used and adapted under CC.

About The Author

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Cindy Veach is the author of Her Kind (CavanKerry Press) a finalist for the 2022 Eric Hoffer Montaigne Medal, Gloved Against Blood (CavanKerry  Press), a finalist for the Paterson Poetry Prize and a Massachusetts  Center for the Book ‘Must Read,’ and the chapbook, Innocents (Nixes Mate). Her poems have appeared in the Academy of American Poets Poem-a-Day, AGNI, Michigan Quarterly Review, Poet Lore, Salamander and elsewhere. Cindy is the recipient of the Philip Booth Poetry Prize and the Samuel Allen Washington Prize. She is poetry co-editor of MER.