Christina Thatcher is a Creative Writing Lecturer at Cardiff Metropolitan University. She keeps busy off campus as Poetry Editor for The Cardiff Review, a tutor for the Poetry School, and a member of the Literature Wales Management Board. Her creative work has featured in over 50 literary magazines, and she's published two poetry collections with Parthian Books: More than you were and How to Carry Fire.
Becoming an Astronaut
Brother, if you want to become an astronaut you must
first earn a degree in engineering, science, or mathematics.
This will take four years or more. After this you can choose:
become a pilot, join the military, complete a PhD or recognize
you exceed the height requirement (147 centimeters)
and decide this is enough to try. Astronauts must
then complete technical courses in meteorology
and geology. You must learn to scuba dive, to survive
in the open ocean, tread water for hours. You must fly
a T-38 Talon Jet, learn Russian. You must receive medical training.
You must accept the principles of microgravity. You must
simulate space walks at the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory.
You must repair and operate space vehicles. You must relearn
how to move objects in a frictionless world. You must trust
your mentors and rehearse your chosen mission. You must
embrace fear but understand, too, that you are ready:
you have been training for this since the first day
you picked up a needle and took yourself to the moon.
after William Brewer
You find spoons everywhere:
under kitchen cabinets, inside comforters,
poking through boxer briefs. Yesterday,
you sat on the sofa and discovered spoons
had replaced stuffing. You cut open cushions,
heaved out hundreds. This is a clearing process.
You dream only of metal. The pastor tells you:
This is normal. You must simply let go of the spoons.
You accept this but the sink still fills up with silver.
The shower spits sterling. Rid yourself of temptation,
my son. The pastor has our father’s blue-green eyes.
You listen and nod: throw out every spoon in the house.
You tell the pastor you can do it. You believe
you can do it. God is with you, my son.
The jerks in your arms and teeth begin
to go. All you had to do was rid yourself
of temptation. You thank God for new strength,
bow your head to pray for more good,
more clean, but every time you close
your eyes you see
that silver curve
If stones were being thrown
it would be better, at least
then there’d be mystery
and motive. Who did this—
leapt into our high-walled
garden at 4am with an arsenal
of rocks? Instead I think
it is a sign:
thunder, high winds, rain
and then a battering
on the conservatory roof,
our puffy-tailed cat running
from the room, up-ending
sleep. Like last year’s oak
which rotted and fell, claimed
a car in the office parking lot
just as your body was carried
like a grain sack to the barn—
I fear this hail is exclaiming
you finally let go
of your life.