Friday, May 28, 2010

On STS-51-L

It is true, I was a baby
when the Challenger occurred
but I grew up in its shadow
and it haunts like Edgar's bird
sitting on the bust of Pallas
(which embodying the wise
seems so fitting, yes, and tragic)
hanging pale upon the skies.
And we learned if we'd been watching
that the wall was written on
if we'd seen it at ignition
we'd have known that they were gone
but instead we traced it skyward
pure white vapor bore them high
but about a minute later
chuff and poom and orange and cry
with the curlicues of vapor
stenciled high up on the blue
with the "Uh-oh" and the impact
they were through and we all knew
and it sank into our spirits
and it sank into our bones
of the foolishness of NASA
and the risks and the unknowns
oh, we shivered when we heard it
how we cringed to hear the tale
of the guess and imprecision
the assumption it can't fail
and I hoped we learned a lesson
as the physics overruled
all the lofty expectations
because nature can't be fooled.

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