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Last Rites of Man on Moon


Last Rites of Man on Moon

(“Was ichh geliebt
kann ich nicht fassen,
Was mich umgibt
Kann ich nicht lassen”)

This ship, this mother,
This chimney-stack on speed
Pumped up with liquid Oxygen and Hydrazine,
With Hydrogen and Benzedrine,
Will teeter into space on rocket-fuelled gimbals,
We’ll keep our fingers crossed
And you keep yours alive, uncrossed and nimble,
Free to feather switches with the symbols

This stack will get you there, and land,
And then take off, believe it,
With luck you’ll journey one quarter of a million mile
And back, but
If the ship won’t rise, will only sit,
Rooted fast in alien regolith,
A stubborn rocket motor,
A random bubble in a pipe
Somewhere, a solenoid that’s stuck,
Puts paid to lift-off, rendezvous
And safe return, reflect on what you’ll do.

What shall we do ?

How will we so arrange our time,
While away that fleeting hour,
Close off our Mayfly-little lunar lives?

Will we climb into our space-man suits,
And fill ’em up with all our gas,
And leave our metal raft and wander
In the fields of rock until the stumbling end?

Arrange our bodies neatly by the Flag,
Dispose ourselves responsibly in rank and file,
Pilot and Commander, side by side,
Gazing at the stars together,
And the Earth, forever?

Shall we unboot ourselves insanely,
And for the freeze-dried moment feel the Moon
Between our toes?

Or will we choose the last night in,
The hatch, our door, well shut, well sealed,
Against the airless burning cold,
And as lights dim,
Peer out onto the the Sun-lit Moon, tranquil, serene,
Wrap up all the rolls of film,
And sup on black grape jel, and dried ice-cream,
And broadcast measured testaments to Earth,
With fond farewells?

Will we clasp each other by the ungloved hand,
Essay a hug,
So twenty centuries from now
They’ll find us lying in our shining craft
And say:
“These were Men from Earth,
Who held together at the last” … ?

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