(A friend had been teaching the kids in her student teaching class about the space program. Meanwhile, we’d been studying the story of the four who entered the Pardes (the orchard) in Talmud class. Somewhere between the two, this poem came out.)

Heichal

When first we breached the blanket of air
Wherein we lay snugly wrapped for all the years of our species’ gestation
Like the pupa of a moth in its coccoon
Slowly liquifying to rebuild itself into a thing that flies
Our eyes beheld a novel thing–
What it is to be dazzled, not by light,
But sheer immensity of space

How well our ancestors knew
The sky we look upon by day,
Opaque and cloudy blue,
Is but a bowl in which we float,
A nest you built to hold us close
Until our wings grow strong,
A window to our other, truer home

Four there were who went there once
Or so they say, and of them three
Did not have the courage but to peek
And so were stricken–
Dead or mad, or shaken so
As to leave behind him all he thinks he knows
Like a child’s broken toys

But we–
May we take our heart from the last
Who went with arms outstretched,
Eyes open wide to see you there
Your hands held out to welcome us
Like a mother beckons her dearest child
Into the water
May we, like that one, say to you–
We come in peace
We go
In peace