They mount a thread of smoke to reach the sky;
we hold our breath below. Recall of sight
of those before who lost their lives gives fright
until calm voice reports all safe; we sigh.
And so again we've sent them to the black,
explorers yes, but artisans as well;
carrying breath for later ones to dwell
there and move outward on their track.
Rejoicing's tinged a melancholy hue:
Atlantis will not ride again the fire;
her sisters are all soon to follow suit.
Though plan's not made, I hope some day a crew
will board a future craft to journey higher,
while giving these adventurers salute.
Saturday, May 15, 2010
The launch of Space Shuttle mission STS-132, Atlantis' last flight, was observed by a group of science-fiction writers, editors, and other members of the Science Fiction Writers' Association taking time out from the Nebula Awards convention. At the link above, Patrick Nielson Hayden posted a photo of the launch, and several commenters on his blog posted poetry inspired by the launch (the sonnets by Fragano Ledgister and Lori Coulson are especially good, but I recommend you read the entire comment thread). Here's a sonnet that I wrote for the occasion: