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“ASTRONAUT GOES FROM MIGRANT FIELDS TO OUTER SPACE”

August 27, 2009

For José M. Hernández

The boy squatting with a wood and wire crate
In Salinas has finally risen
Above his station, California almost
Beautiful from this distance. Now when he bends
To the heavy glass he’s hurtling through
Vacuum cold as night on the desert
When coyotes bring the families across
In rust gnawed pick ups and then on foot.
He’s glossing over vast tracts of years, entire lives
In dirt and of dirt, obligations. He orbits
His parents talking low in their bed,
His mother’s sorrow the high pitch of rain
Against the hut’s metal blinds. In zero
Gravity the work is easy; nothing weighs
On the heart. He rides openly, needn’t hide
In back with shovels under a tarp.
The earth is no longer soil but rainbow blue
And round as fruit. His itinerant efforts pay back
In stars. Now heaven is mestizo, offers
Fine shades, not just Milky Way black and white.
Let the good news fall gently back to earth.
Let today’s harvest be measured not in pounds
But raised eyes, and miles, and light.

                                        –David Moolten

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32 Comments leave one →
  1. August 27, 2009 7:20 am

    It’s so tightly interwoven, it’s hard to pick a line or two, though I really like “Now heaven is mestizo”. I enjoyed the whole play on space: cold, weightless, dark

  2. rallentanda permalink
    August 27, 2009 7:25 am

    What a lovely poem with some tender moments i.e.the immigrant having to hide with the shovels… parents whispering in low voices and his mother’s sorrow
    Lovely lines…
    His itinerant efforts paid in stars…
    rainbow blue and round as fruit
    Let the good news fall gently back to earth(slightly Shakespearean…it droppeth like the gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath)
    Well done .I enjoyed this .

  3. August 27, 2009 9:32 am

    Beautiful imagery, David. Dirt and sky. Heaven and earth. Real people making their way through both. Very powerful!

    • davidmoolten permalink*
      August 28, 2009 5:13 am

      I am grateful for your feedback.

  4. August 27, 2009 10:07 am

    Great images there. Pleasure to read it!

    blowing over that mug of coffee

    • davidmoolten permalink*
      August 28, 2009 5:13 am

      Many thanks for letting me know.

  5. August 27, 2009 11:47 am

    I don’t know if I can add more superlatives except to say that this is the type of poem I like best, the story of a life, condensed to watershed moments. Loved it.

    • davidmoolten permalink*
      August 27, 2009 3:30 pm

      Thanks for the feedback, Cynthia.

  6. August 27, 2009 12:06 pm

    Hello David,

    I’m with Cynthia! This is a life I can understand, told with such beauty.

    “In zero
    Gravity the work is easy; nothing weighs
    On the heart.”

    • davidmoolten permalink*
      August 27, 2009 3:32 pm

      Hi Derrick,

      I’m grateful for your comments.

  7. August 27, 2009 3:22 pm

    The prompt was very good to you, I’d say. This is a poem that invites multiple readings.

    • davidmoolten permalink*
      August 27, 2009 3:33 pm

      Thanks Dave. Yes, the prompt was open-ended but still provided direction, the best kind.

  8. August 27, 2009 6:13 pm

    I love it, thank you for sharing.

  9. joannejohns permalink
    August 27, 2009 7:18 pm

    Beautiful poem – the last three lines especially so.

    • davidmoolten permalink*
      August 28, 2009 5:09 am

      Thank you for letting me know.

  10. djvorreyer permalink
    August 27, 2009 9:01 pm

    His mother’s sorrow the high pitch of rain
    Against the hut’s metal blinds.

    This is a wonderful poem, but I adore these lines – it provides a specific background to his story that could, in less deft hands, be a “pull-up-by-the-bootstraps” cliche. Good work.

    • davidmoolten permalink*
      August 28, 2009 5:10 am

      Thanks so much. It was and is a great story, which helped. So much of the news is not terribly inspiring, but this was.

  11. August 27, 2009 9:51 pm

    I really liked the way your poem played back and forth from earth to space and back again. It was a very enjoyable read. “In zero gravity nothing weighs on the heart.” Very insightful thinking!

    • davidmoolten permalink*
      August 28, 2009 5:12 am

      Thank you. There’s something about the physics of space that’s eerily poetic, in spite of itself.

  12. August 28, 2009 12:45 am

    Interesting

    • davidmoolten permalink*
      August 28, 2009 5:54 am

      I appreciate you’re telling me.

  13. August 29, 2009 10:22 am

    “Rainbow blue and round as a fruit” — one of many beautiful moments in this poem.

    • davidmoolten permalink*
      August 29, 2009 12:58 pm

      Thanks for taking the time to read it Nathan. Though I have only the benefit of pictures, from an astronaut’s perspective there’s nothing more beautiful than the earth seen from such distance. It’s too bad things aren’t more beautiful close up.

  14. August 30, 2009 11:51 am

    A radiant praise song for a worthy contemporary hero. The poem has so much to admire. The line breaks do so much skillful poetic work — risen / Above his station; orbits / His parents; nothing weighs / On the heart. I hope you share the poem with the astronaut — find his email address. I’ve sent poems to people about whom I’ve written, and they’ve been most grateful. Beautiful work.

    • davidmoolten permalink*
      August 31, 2009 5:42 am

      Therese, thank you for your praise. I like your idea about sending the poem to the astronaut. I’ve always been a bit shy about that kind of thing, but maybe I’ll get up the nerve.

  15. August 30, 2009 5:00 pm

    well written…well said…and “far out”….worth of another read David

    • davidmoolten permalink*
      August 31, 2009 5:38 am

      Thanks so much Wayne.

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