The Rocket Ship
He hasn't thought about it since he was twenty-five,
and-here it is! in a box, in the attic, and still shrill
in it's candy red and deeply mango yellow 1950s plastic,
carefully molded into the astrodynamic silhouette
of "the future": all those "solaratomic" fins
a spaceship evidently would require in the year 2000.
Now he's fifty-five...and, for a minute, as he lifts it
to the window, the air of the attic really does become
the cat's-eye swirl of gases that's the atmosphere of Jupiter,
and then...well, anything then. Anything antigravity
and faster-than-light. It's based on the one, the "real" one
in the TV show, that had a "radium blaster" on its sleek nose.
This one, too: a sky blue plastic blaster the size of a toothpick.
When he'd thought of it the last time, he was with a woman
-thirty years ago!-and running his tongue along
the butter of her thigh when, very gently, but assuredly, she
stopped him with a single finger set against his forehead,
to explain the scar. It was, she said, a surgical scar.
She had cancer. All they could do right now was plant
a kind of "seed" (that was her term), a radiated capsule,
into her leg and hope for the best. For him of course it isn't
a seed: you know, now, his own metaphor of choice. He sees it
taking off, fooming through the cosmos of the body,
her body, that easily seems to be worthy of the theorizing
of Einstein and of Hawking; maybe everybody's is.
She died, by the way. There was never anything after
twenty-five for her. But he lifts her out of his memory now,
unwrapping her with something of the quiet awe he felt that night.
- Albert Goldbarth