People change. People estrange. The wear and tear on the asbestos flange
took my grandfather at seventy-five. My grandmother is alive,
and turning eighty. The moon landing is forty. I am twenty. Ten, five.
The moon is a Kennedy penny in a madras sky,
and the man in the moon got a rocket through his eye.
The landing is a lie and my cousin is high on marijuana.
I am watching him grill with old coal.
I prefer my meets rare. To see continually is to stare.
“Radio is coming back,” a black is coming,
the first black man in my grandmother’s house
with a radio in every room, in tune to Mahler.
Families change. The dog is hairless from the mange.
My grandmother took a shine to the new fella
when he dropped a Kennedy half-dollar
in the cup in the shrine to my grandfather,
which is also dedicated to President Kennedy.
Scene change: the astronaut dies alone, airless, in range
of the television cameras. Nixon is solemn and brief.
My grandparents turn off the set and eat.
They were born on Earth, and will die there.
It would be beautiful to die elsewhere.
My grandparents turn off the light and sleep,
in separate rooms—the German for “space” is “room”—
in separate tombs—but, before then, *Der Raumfahrer*
found his moon and planted his flag in her womb.
This is how I came to be, eventually.
I think about where we will be soon.
I think about it. I eat a single hamburger
under the white-hot hole in the mauveine sky
(mauveine being the first synthetic dye).
“The moon landing is the Enlightenment gone awry,”
to quote a friend. When it came up my grandmother
recalled my grandfather happily cry, like
the astronauts had driven there.
We drove here. The poem ends. We drove back.
Somehow the moon is white but not black.