Even the feral children stood in orderly lines –
their shoes spit-shined and their caps doffed, their fidget fingers still,
their white eyes wide with wonder and space –
stood among the sky-high high-heeled mothers to be and the stray dogs
and the spivs in the street who never looked up and never thought past –
and passersby and a gang of clergymen and spotty teenagers who dreamt.
Pink blossom fell from the trees like Japanese confetti.
And then came the astronauts –
each with matching green mohicans like growing grass seed,
their white suits, their helmets under their arms –
towards the rocketship and on up towards –
the astronauts shaking hands with the crowds and backslapping one another
and looking for all the world like brothers –
on their way up into and on past the sky.
In the media centre junior reporter Michael Cloudsley eats salad
and types a minute-by-minute report of the mission.
He yawns with lettuce.
The online news editor is on the phone again:
“Keep typing. Keep telling our readers things about that rocket.”
He yawns with pepper.
He yawns with cucumber.
He yawns with rocket.
In the next room is a large screen showing the rocket making its way up, up,
up, up, up, up, up, up, the image repeating like some height-hungry toddler.
In the vastness of space the image has little meaning.
He yawns with cress.
In the next room are three glamorous astronaut’s wives along with assorted
scientists and engineers and representatives of the shuttle’s sponsors,
a kind-of sort-of car manufacturer.
Cloudsley types some more words to paint this picture for his readers and then
He yawns with mushroom.
He yawns with tomato.
He yawns with a bit of everything.
How much do astronauts get paid per mission?
Halfway between the Earth and the Moon
Halfway between somewhere and nowhere
Halfway between the beginning and the end
All of the way between being anything anyone back home can do anything about
And when one of them, floating, asked:
How much do we get paid to do this, again?
They all cracked up a sonnet of laughter, like
Ha ha ha ha, ha ha ha ha, ha ha ha ha, ha ha.
Cloudsley yawns with ice cream.
All these many hours later and he is still watching,
and typing updates on such minimal mission news.
He yawns with cone.
The astronauts’ wives are still watching too, watching and getting pedicures
whilst their husbands – green-mohicaned space brothers each – soar up,
still up and up even after they are so far up that directions become
In between updates he writes speculative, sleep-deprived,
probably libellous fictional accounts of what is going on up there.
By the time of the next moon mission Michael Cloudsley will be world-famous.
It took them all day and the rocket landed late at night.
The astronauts unpacked and set up camp under the stars,
slept like feral children on the surface of the moon.
The first astronaut woke with the cacophony of the rising sun,
and the smell of stale male sweat and steepled sleep –
sat up and looked around and remembered how he got there,
and his green mohican flopped in all directions –
flopped with morning doze and the weightlessness of the moon,
whilst the other astronauts slept on and on and back on earth –
back on earth it is morning too and –
the astronaut peeled off his sleep layers and made his naked way
to the lake in which to bathe and preen and erect his mohican –
the first mohican on the history of the moon –
the lake is full of long, flat weeds like spinach tagliatele, in which
the astronaut becomes entangled as he lolls on his back and laughs –
a long, hard lunar laugh which he watches up into the sky and
transmit back to earth like he is a benign, mohicaned dictator of the earth.
He cooks breakfast on a camping stove.
Cloudsley yawns with salad for breakfast.
He is not watching any more, just writing fictional moon landings on the back of salad leaves –
on peppers, on tomatoes, on slices of cucumber –
and then eating the evidence until there exists, in his stomach, a rainforest of moon landings
such as would be impossible to explore, even with all the mohicaned astronauts in the world
at your disposal.