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BooksSeptember 3, 2021

The Friday Poem: What’s Been to Space, by Zoë Higgins

Astronauts on a Planet Illustration
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A new poem from from Zoë Higgins.

What’s Been to Space

Thirty-two monkeys have been sent to space, and twelve dogs,

fruit flies with the genes of fruit flies and an American

named Alan Shepard. The most famous dog in space was Laika who died,

the most famous American was Neil Armstrong who died

a little later. The pencils of innumerable Russians have been to space

and drifted over tundra of calculations

like snowy owls. Elon Musk’s dreams

have been to space, and spiralled on re-entry

around just himself. All the sputniks have been sent to space,

all the vostoks and the chandrayaans, the apollos the voyagers

and mariners and pioneers and explorers, all our frontiers

have been sent to space to live as midshipmen

and mean-eyed cowboys.

And South American guppies

have been sent to space, and Coca-Cola in dispensers engineered

to keep the fizz, irradiated beef for hamburgers and the blood

and body of Christ. Buzz Aldrin took communion on the moon

where there was never wheat or vines just silver dust

matte on the soles of his moon boots.

The coordinates of our positions have been to space,

our one-click payment history has been to space, Rona with her calabash

has been to space and not come back. Rhiannon of the silver horse

has been to space and, let’s be real, what hasn’t been to space,

what haven’t we hurled away from us toward a quiet moon?


The Friday Poem is edited by Chris Tse. Submissions are currently closed and will open again later this year.

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